Arcade Fire - Reflektor

Arcade Fire have spent the better part of a decade growing into their own majesty. Funeral, for all its estimable sweep, existed very much in the context of early-’00s indie, with all the scraggly yelping and old-timey pianos that were so in vogue in that Modest Mouse/Bright Eyes era. The ambition and enthusiasm were very much there, but so were these gnarled affectations that felt a bit secondhand. On Neon Bible, they tried out Springsteenian grandeur, and it mostly worked; that album has aged awfully well. Still, though, there was the hint of quotation marks around what they were doing. The Suburbs — for my money, still their best record — was where they figured out how to do scope and ambition entirely on their own terms, to adapt joyous synthpop flourishes and blown-out widescreen pomp without drawing from any obvious sources or withholding in anyway. And now that they’ve harnessed all that grandeur, they now face the problem of what to do with it. So: Reflektor, a forcefully and unapologetically transitional record, a grand and glorious mess, an attempt to reach out in a whole mess of different directions at once, an Event Album that doesn’t let its Event status overwhelm it tangled personal weirdness.

Relfektor has growing pains all over it, and some of the noise surrounding the album has been just painfully awkward: Their insistence on referring to themselves as the Reflektors (as if there’s no way Arcade Fire could be pushing themselves in all these different directions), the waxy-head costumes, the euphorically odd late-night TV special, the general clumsy silliness of the grand album rollout (especially compared with the clinical precision of Daft Punk’s grand album rollout). And some of that bleeds through to the album, as well. the hidden track and “Supersymmetry” are mostly made up of long, boring stretches of orchestral ambience and backwards noises. Between the album’s two obviously-demarcated halves, we get that same sound that used to come between sides on cassette tapes, an obvious self-conscious touch that takes you right out of it. And with most of the tracks padded out in the neighborhood of six minutes, the album has some of that 20/20 Experience syndrome: Songs that would’ve been just fine at four minutes, blown out to indulgent lengths because this somehow makes them seem more important.

But if some of these decisions are a bit awkward, they don’t detract from the album’s brilliant moments, and god knows there are plenty of those. Reflektor represents the band’s proud, obvious, self-conscious decision to attempt an Achtung Baby or a Remain In Light, to team up with a visionary producer and drop some of their self-serious image and push their sound in places where it’s never been before. Their Eno is James Murphy, who shares co-production credit with old collaborator Markus Dravs and with the band itself. In certain places, Murphy’s touch is obvious. The title track, for instance, is basically Arcade Fire doing their version of an LCD Soundsystem song, with the real David Bowie standing in for Murphy’s Bowie impression. And you can hear his fingerprints at work elsewhere: The push-pull congas, the shivery pianos, the perfectly-placed keyboard blips. But Murphy’s influence is more important in a couple of nebulous senses. For one thing, Murphy the producer is one of our great loudness nerds, an Albini disciple who’s figured out how to apply that cold in-room sound to other genres. And no matter how layered and complex the arrangements on Reflektor become, all the individual sounds remain hard and physical and immediate. Also, and perhaps more importantly, Murphy is a great proponent of trying, and possibly of falling on your ass. I interviewed Murphy once, and he gave me this great quote: “Fucking go try! Fail! Go face-down! Listen to the Paul McCartney records; he went face-down a lot, but you don’t get ’Temporary Secretary’ if you’re not willing to go face-down. You don’t get Ram. You don’t get these songs that are above and beyond what that guy is.” And by that same token, you don’t get “Here Comes The Night Time” if you’re not willing to go face-down.

And holy shit, “Here Comes The Night Time”: A carnival-parade explosion that settles down into a sinuous Carribean ripple, a very slow and very white calypso. It’s ridiculous, and it’s gorgeous. Arcade Fire have been huge public advocates of aid to Haiti, but their decision to incorporate bits of Haitian music, leaves them very open to the sorts of cultural-appropriation charges that once dogged Vampire Weekend. But what a beautiful, revelatory song it is — a song about personal discovery that sounds like personal discovery, like human beings caught up in the endorphin-rush of learning what their hips can do. And sure, there’s some awkwardness there, as there always is when it takes grown-ups forever to learn this stuff. But that awkwardness doesn’t overwhelm the sheer happiness that the song conveys; if anything, it augments it. “The lights don’t work / Nothing works / You say you don’t mind,” sings a dazzled Win Butler, and the excited awe in his voice reminds me a bit of Michael Jackson when he first played around with club music, or like Rivers Cuomo bleating “How cool is that?” on “El Scorcho.”

There are other highs, too. That title track is glorious arena-rock disco, a complicated machine in which every part does its job to perfection. “Flashbulb Eyes” is such stiff, spacey, paranoid echo-chamber funk that it practically screams Remain In Light from the rooftops. “Afterlife” somehow integrates all those counter-rhythms into an old-school indie bray-fest; it’s the closest thing to an old-model Arcade Fire song here. Meanwhile, the only real rock song on the album is the tough, terse, extremely uncomfortable “Normal Person.” Butler opens the song thusly: “Do you like rock and roll music / Because I don’t know if I do” — shades of Guy Picciotto snarling that he hates the sound of guitars on Fugazi’s decidedly guitar-charged “Target.” He’s singing in a gasping whisper, like Mick Jagger on “Miss You,” over a barreling bar-rock honk that explodes, on the chorus, into some triumphant riffage that maybe, possibly mocks the very idea of triumphant riffage.

But there are also lows. I’m waiting for most of the album’s second half to grab me, and it hasn’t happened yet. Many of their songs resonate less as songs and more as grooves — murky, turgid, inward grooves at that. Around the time Régine Chassagne’s spirited franglais whoop briefly takes center-stage on “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus),” I found myself wishing that she’d be the focus of more of these songs, that Butler would take the backseat a bit more often, the way he did on The Suburbs. Indeed, Chassagne is a way better singer than her husband, and Win doesn’t quite have the vocal swagger that he needs to convincingly animate some of the funkier vamps here. Still, even at its lowest point, there’s a lot to admire here. This is a band who use honest-to-god avant-music stars — Owen Pallett, Colin Stetson — as sidemen, and even when things don’t quite click, I can’t help but admire the reach. Every track has its own grand ambition, and that ambition is at least a bit different from the grand ambition on every other track. So Reflektor is something like a big-budget movie in which every scene is a set-piece and you never get a chance to catch your breath between them. Maybe not all of those set-pieces make sense, and maybe it doesn’t quite hang together, but you still leave breathless. It’s the Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol of albums. And you know what? I fucking loved Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. That movie ruled.

Reflektor is out 10/29 on Merge.

Comments (95)
  1. Every time I listen, I have a different favorite song. That usually bodes well for an album’s longevity. And frankly I like the second side even more than the first.

    • agree that that second disc is the stronger of the two…last 4 tracks are the best on the album (aside from reflektor and the 6 minute rewind at the end of super symmetry)

      • I’m having the same experience. Each listen finds new highlights and favorite songs. There are still a couple songs that need to grow on me, but the highs are so high it’s ridiculous. And yes, the last 4 songs are a perfect sequence.

        I definitely recommend listening while watching the Black Orpheus footage as there’s clearly a Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon connection happening here despite the forced editing.

    • I have finally listened to this enough times to have an opinion! I agree that the second half is the bees knees but the first half easily holds its own as the superior disc based on the gritty edge it has:

      1) As much as we’ve all already heard “Reflektor” it’s being discarded as one of the most delicious/accessible tracks AF has ever real eased. That chorus crushes souls.

      2) The beginning riff of “We Exist” makes me want to hump something…

      3) “Here Comes The Night Time” could possibly be the best song on this entire record. Fuck it’s dancy. Is that even a word???

      This album runs train on every other motherfuckin album that has spun on the motherfuckin radio this year sans Yeezus – Stevie Janowski

      • I meant released in the “Reflektor” comment. But you guys knew that. It’s damn near 2am and I’m posting about Arcade Fire. I’m druuuuunnnnnnkkkkk!

    • ^^THISx100^^

      In describing the album to friends who haven’t heard it yet, I settled on “The ‘rock’ songs (3 in a row – tracks 4, 5, 6) are surprisingly the 3 weakest tracks on the album. I almost wish they were cut and it was just a glorious synthy one-disc release.” I find the first half of the first disc, and all of the second disc, to be endlessly catchy and listenable. I still have a feeling I’ll come around to the others, but they’re clunkier and seem out of place.

  2. Last evening – 6pm – Was indifferent
    Last night – 10pm – Disliked it
    This morning – 10am – Liked it

    What was a real difference-maker in my experience is today, I did the entire “sit with headphones” rigamarole with the album unlike yesterday where there was a lot more movement involved in my listening experience, and I chopped the album by its first and second parts. Upon absorbing it as a whole, that second part (which I, too, felt was disengaging emotionally and truthfully still feels like the sound of Arcade Fire if half their members died in a bus accident or something) works much better in its blurry underworld storyboard. And I, too, feel the same about Régine’s presence being relegated to that of a main eventer being pushed down to an aimless mid-carder with no angle post-winning Money In the Bank and acting the role of a transitional champion. Overall, you can’t really pick and choose which tracks to spin alone as much as you could on past efforts, but that isn’t a slight at them whatsoever.

  3. Still not understanding Stereogum’s intense annoyance with the album rollout, other than maybe the explanation that it’s harder to write about mysterious teaser videos and goofy band alter egos than it is to write about an mp3 plopped in your inbox by a record label.

    • Maybe I’m wrong, but I think in the “indie” rock industry, there is an expectation that regardless of how great and innovative bands that lie within that realm are, they maintain a sense of cool humbleness to their marketing approach even when there is some money put behind it. Obviously, Arcade Fire is not your typical “indie” rock band, and I think this album’s promotional efforts made it painstakingly clear that even an “indie” rock band could clutter your space just as Michael Jackson and Madonna annoyingly did in their peak heyday to the point where you were “over” the album before it came out. The mediums to which the two eras reach audiences may be vastly different, but Arcade Fire cornered practically every medium to let the world know Reflektor was coming: The streets, your TVs, YouTube ads, Reflektor fans at festivals going back as far as August’s FYF Fest, that small salsa club in your neighborhood you didn’t even know existed — They were rearing their wax heads everywhere.

      How Ian Cohen could write in his track review of “Reflektor” that “they care about being cool the same way Superman does– which is to say, not at all’ is beyond me, because clearly image means a lot to Arcade Fire. Having an image isn’t a bad thing, but in the end, the music is what is remembered. Luckily, they have the chops to deliver that, and it’s why Arcade Fire’s album is currently outselling Lady Gaga on (but they really need to let off the gimmickry just in case…)

      • But we saw those Daft Punk helmets way more than we did Arcade Fire’s wax heads – Daft Punk took over an entire town for god’s sake, so how is it that we consider that a carefully-calculated rollout but Arcade Fire’s was somehow nauseating?

        • I don’t know, man — I can’t speak for everyone. I personally feel all over-exerted promotion for an album is nauseating, so both the robots and Canucks are equally guilty of it and I don’t favor either one’s way of going about it over the other. Flashy things don’t impress me all too easily.

          • Agreed – I buy that it’s not for everyone, just think it’s unfair to consistently reference as annoying in writing/critiques of the actual music, especially in reference to another album rollout that, if you’re not into that kind of thing, was just as nauseating.

        • Daft Punk didn’t seem so smarmy about the whole affair

    • I think the other issue the marketing had is that it loses its effect once we start hearing about the album itself in the traditional ways, i.e. tracklisting, Rolling Stone review, etc. When all Reflektor was was a logo and a bunch of questions, it was cool and tantalizing. When I knew that the double LP was coming on October 29th and had heard a single and read about it everywhere, all the youtube teaser vids just made me impatient for the damn thing to come out already so I could hear it and move on with my life.

      • When did we become unable to wait 2.5 months from an album announcement to release? (Those Reflektor graffiti pieces started appearing in early August.) Vampire Weekend announced in January that MVOTC would be out in May (that’s a four month wait), released the name of the album in the Classifieds of the New York Times, and released all of those Steve Buscemi promos before we heard more than Diane Young/Step. Just trying to wrap my head around why AF’s getting shat on for their marketing approach on ‘Gum when we’ve seen more ridiculous and longer, more drawn-out rollouts just this year.

        • One difference is that Vampire Weekend’s promo videos for Buscemi stand alone as amusing little comedy bits, whereas the youtube promos are just mysterious for the sake of being mysterious. I’m also fairly certain those promos came sometime after we heard the single as they were intended to advertise VW’s youtube concert more than the album itself. In any case, Arcade Fire had: cryptic album announcements, graffiti, a concert special, youtube video teasers, secret shows, giant wax heads, Colbert show appearances, Black Orpheus jacking lyric videos, special single release 9/9 jamborees, and ridiculous social media contests. It was a lot of stuff. And I think part of the problem is that sites like stereogum obsessively covered every little move the band made–it could be that other bands this year started things off in a similar way, but they almost certainly weren’t covered as breathlessly as were Arcade Fire.

          • I look at the Reflektor rollout this way:
            1. It got the die-hards rabid with anticipation for the record, more so than they would have been with a “traditional” rollout. (Fans were looping audio from the promos backwards, splicing them all together in different sequences, etc. – that’s some dedication.)
            2. It let people who maybe would not have known otherwise that there was a new Arcade Fire record coming out.
            3. It annoyed all of the indie blog readers who were going to listen to the record as soon as it was released anyway.

  4. Ok, so maybe Tom Cruise-related comparisons are better than Yeezus, but Ghost Protocol was crap. Now I’m gonna read the whole evaluation.

    • I thought Ghost Protocol was pretty slick. Especially Compared to MI3 – J.J. Abrams overly ambitious, drawn out celebration of all things Tom Cruise – Ghost Protocol learned to revel in its simplicity. Not to mention the way the stunts were conducted really elicited an awareness of Cruise’s mortality, restoring a sense of thrill absent from the franchise since the first movie.

      I’m just saying there is a reason why the movie scored a 93% on rotten tomatoes, and as a film aficionado I have to say that Ghost Protocol plays a very unique role in the history of blockbuster cinema (a third sequel that’s successful in ways distinct from the rest of the franchise? Who was expecting that?)

  5. I’d say it’s more of a Return of the King of an album – good as is but cutting it down a little would make the good parts so much better and eliminate some of the self-indulgence.

    Also, I agree – NEEDS MORE REGINE.

  6. This is a good album.

    Opossum out.

  7. Oh, stewardess! arcade fire speak jive…… whattif da camera, really do, take your soul

  8. “It’s the Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol of albums.” More like the “Gravity” of albums IMO — it’s got that big budget acclaim, but its mass audience appeal still leaves me a little cold

  9. What a weird comparison to end this review on.

  10. A lot of people are complaining about the length, and while I think it is demanding, I dont think it’s a detriment.. The album doesn’t feel bloated, say, like The Suburbs, which by the way is basically the same length if you take out the hidden track and end of Supersymmetry.

    • I feel that all of the songs are fantastic, and on my first listen I felt like there was some “filler”, however those filler songs became my favorite during the second listen. With all of that in mind, I have one issue as of my third listen: The instrumental introduction to Here Comes the Night Time II (or ending to Joan of Arc) felt unnecessary. If it were a few minutes I would have no issue, however it goes on for a 10+ minutes, adding to the length of the album while not (IMHO) really contributing to the overall feel. It does not particularly build up to the next song or end Joan of Arc in a truly memorable way. Maybe my opinion will change after a few more listens, but as of right now I think they had a near perfect album with this pointless instrumental track, which does have some beautiful moments, but overall does not go anywhere.

      Beyond the obvious picks (Awful Sound, Joan of Arc, Afterlife), one of my favorites on the record is Normal Person. It is so different from the rest of the songs on the album, and yet it fits in so perfectly on the first half. Overall, I really love this album, and although it is not as cohesive as The Suburbs, I think it has a lot of really great gems.

      • All that fast-forwarding/rewinding instrumental nonsense between the two halves of the album (and after Supersymmetry) is actually not part of the tracklist. They’re just hidden tracks from the vinyl release that were inserted into the stream to allow the music to better line up with the film in the background.
        Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that is the case.

      • Yes, that interlude is ludicrous. Fortunately, it’s treated as a separate track, so it can be easily removed, unlike the coda of Supersymmetry.

    • Yeah. There is a lot of criticism about the length, but I don’t feel that way about it. The album is such a dazzling listen and I absolutely love it.

      That’s why I don’t get the 20/20 Experience comparison. I’m sorry, but that Justin Timberlake album is by far the most overrated thing released this year. It’s such a borefest and it fails to excite me in any way, either negatively or positively.

  11. Not a single mention of Yeezus or Drake? am I still on Stereogum?

  12. There is nothing I nitpick in this article besides Breihan saying “The Suburbs” was better than “Funeral”. That just in no way could be true.

  13. Also, not to be that guy, but if we’re thinking of overstuffed, kinda incoherent Tom Cruise megaliths, it’s all about Mission Impossible 2.

  14. I like “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)”, it immediately was a stand out for me at least.

    • Same.

      I figured “Here Comes The Night Time” would be my instant favorite (it still was) but Disc 2 had the above song waiting for me. It resonated with that old feeling I got when I first listened to Arcade Fire. Maybe it had something to do with that song synching up with Orpheus running through the hospital… but that song was also the instant stand out for me.

  15. I’ve spent the most of my time with the first half of the album, and it has grown so much on me these past 24 hours.

    If there ever was an album that didn’t need to be evaluated prematurely, it’s this one. Hopefully when AOTW comes along, there will be more words on this. I’m definitely going to need more time to gather my thoughts.

  16. It’s gonna be an Arcade Fire weekend, all weekend.
    Here comes the night time!

  17. The live show sounds that sequence “Here Comes The Night Time” > “Normal Person” > “You Already Know” reminded me a lot of another James Murphy produced album. When “Echoes” runs from “I Need Your Love” > “The Coming of Spring” > “House of Jealous Lovers” with a similar screaming crowd connecting the tracks.

    I like many was not floored instantly by this album. However when I go over the album track by track, I don’t see a song I could remove. I actually enjoy the hidden track and outro droned backwards ambiance. Then again, I liked it when The Knife separated their double album with 20 minutes of silence/drone.

    Last night I put this album on loop and passed out to it, only to be awoken by “Here Comes The Night Time” at one random point early this morning. One enjoyable aspect of my looped listening was having the Hidden Track at the front of the album instead of separating the two discs. Then when “Supersymmetry” does its long fade out it loops into the Hidden Track and, as Tom mentioned, it’s like one big rewind back to the beginning. Given the title of the album, I like that they provided me with the tools to hear the album in such a way.

    It’s definitely an album I’m going to have to listen to a lot, but I like it the way it is. On the other hand… that new Cut Copy album? Instant Ecstasy. Sort of unfortunate that Arcade Fire try out their dancing shoes on their new album the same time Cut Copy drop their fourth perfect dance record. Still. Two great album advances in the same day. I’m a happy camper.

    • Seriously! That new Cut Copy IS THE JAM! I like it a lot better than Zonoscope, and I liked Zonoscope a lot.

      • Yes! New Cut Copy is blowing me away. Pretty excited bout that; they’re one of my favorites, and while Zonoscope was still good, it let me down a little bit. Not this one.

        As for Reflektor, gotta say, I’m digging it way more than any of their others. Then again, I’ve never been a huge Arcade Fire fan (don’t hold anything against them, though), but have always loved LCD. So go figure.

        Overall, yesterday was a pretty cool guy in terms of music.

    • I thought the Hidden Track was supposed to open the album? I have it as track 0 on disc 1… which perfectly flows into Reflektor (if you wish to listen to it) and also bookends the album nicely with the Supersymmetry outro. I think it’s funny when people knock down albums a notch or two for having tracks like these. It’s like, it’s a hidden track and an outro… they’re pretty easily avoidable if you don’t want to hear them, but add a cool atmospheric ‘journey’ feel to the listening experience if you listen to the album in its entirety.

      I love Reflektor. Loooooove it. It’s so great. But as great as it is, I think I love Cut Copy even more. It’s like all of the sex all at once. It’s that orgasmic. A psychedelic old-school rave/house album inspired by Screamadelica? Yes please. Yes Yes Yesssssss.

  18. This is one of those things you have to decide before hand whether you’re “going all in or not”. I wasn’t a massive Suburbs fan, so I’m gonna wait until I have time to properly sit and absorb it. I don’t get the criticism of the album rollout. Why reference it so much in the review of the music? I do agree on Win’s voice, however, to me that was the weaker point. Such a massive sound deserves a bigger voice and bigger presence, which might be why I haven’t given in to them. Oh well, good on them for doing what they do and being a genuinely interesting band for years to come.

  19. I’m sorry, but this album simply isn’t necessary; we all know so-called “glorious arena-rock disco” reached its apex with Kiss’s “Dynasty.” Call me when Arcade Fire writes the equivalent of “I Was Made for Loving You.”

  20. i’m a little rankled by what’s said in the first paragraph about funeral – if my memory serves me correctly, critical adoration for that record knew no bounds when it was released, and that’s an understatement. sorry, aside from a huge swath of the suburbs, arcade fire has rarely come close to topping anything on that record since.

    and neon bible “has aged awfully well”? you mean all 7 years?

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  22. Since I’m having a hard time not gushing over this thing, I’ll just point to a specific musical moment I think is great:

    The na-na-na’s in “We Exist” follow the same harmonic line (differently rhythmically of course) as the minute at 2:26 in “Suburban War” when those single-shot, turn-you-to-stone-they’re-so-beautiful harmonies come in. Those harmonies in “Suburban War” are possibly my favorite moment in the whole AF catalog, and they get revamped and funkdafied on “We Exist”

    This album is fucking great.

  23. This is clearly the most interesting record they’ve put out?

  24. You lost me at “Chassagne is a way better singer than her husband.” That’s clearly a ridiculous statement. Her grating voice is the only think I dislike about the band.

  25. is it still cultural appropriation when Regine is of Haitian heritage?

    • ” Arcade Fire have been huge public advocates of aid to Haiti, but their decision to incorporate bits of Haitian music, leaves them very open to the sorts of cultural-appropriation charges that once dogged Vampire Weekend”

      Yeah, this is some weird strawman disclaimer. It doesn’t need to be acknowledged, this isn’t Paul Simon breaking apartheid here.

  26. “Reflektor” is amazing. Just a killer dance track. “We Exist” is completely forgettable and at 5:44 is waaaaaay too long. “Flashbulb Eyes” isn’t that great either but at 2:42 goes by quickly. “Here Comes the Night Time” is awesome and is one of the best tracks on the album. The movement through the different sections is a lot of fun. I think “Normal Person” sucks pretty hard but a lot of you like it so maybe it will grow on me. The lyrics are cringeworthy with the whole “I’ve never met a normal person before, how do you do.” Plus the melody and guitar line is annoying. “You Already Know” is a decent little upbeat number I guess, but would be the worst song on any of the their previous 3 albums. “Joan of Arc” would be a great 3 and a half minute track. They drag it out over 5 minutes unfortunately, but it’s still a catchy, enjoyable song.

    i like “Here comes the Night Time II” as the vastly superior 2nd half of the album starts. “Awful Sound” is a slinky little vamp that even at over 6 minutes is gorgeous all the way through. “It’s Never Over” keeps up the more subdued 2nd half. Regine finally shows back up after trading verses on the title track. The synths are cool and even though it’s also long, it’s a cool track. “Porno” again is long but it’s good. I guess the complaint for this stretch of songs 9-11 is that they tend to drag on depending on your mood. I’m enjoying them, however. “Afterlife” follows and is the best song on the album with possible exception of the title track. I just love it. “Supersymmetry” closes out the album on a mostly forgettable note. “Afterlife” should have closed out the album IMO.

  27. The 2nd disc is by far the best of the two. Porno, Afterlife, Supersymmetry is a fucking gold rush.

  28. Im probably in the minority but this is by far their weakest effort. So bland, boring, and repetitive. Funeral is still top tier, Neon Bible is good, but Suburbs is their masterpiece. This album goes nowhere like its build ups.

    • I agree that Suburbs kicked serious ass, but Neon Bible was their weakest in my opinion. Give this album more listens and you’ll realize its potential.

  29. I am blowing my speakers out with this thing right now, and I just want to fall at their feet. After so many years listening to music I’m an eternal optimist. I’m hopeful about the bands I love.

    But it’s pretty rare that I’m listening to something and I have a moment of discovery that just transports my mind back to car trips in the backseat with my walkman really listening to albums .

    That has happened to me like four times this year. And maybe most immediately with Reflektor.

    There is so much going on here. There’s at least one moment in every song that makes you really excited to go back and hear it again, but you’re too excited to get to the next song to rewind it. I’ve probably listened through it half a dozen times and I still don’t know what’s going to end up being my favorite song. This is why I LOVE THIS FUCKING MUSIC!


  30. I think it is pretty great so far! Like some have said, each time I listen, I have a new favorite. To me, You Already Know sounds like If Arcade Fire had a baby with The Smiths, and it’s awesome

  31. This might sound silly. But this question is for the people who really love Arcade Fire and are down with this new sound and have already spent a while with the album (you know…enough to really know how much you might love it).

    Do you all love it? Because I do. I’ve listened a lot, and now I’m having that listen where it all just hits you over your highhead. Uhmm, this album is huge and exciting and fun and beautiful. It has such a beautiful range…compare the lighthearded fun of “Flashbulb Eyes” (which is NOT a throwaway track!) and the gorgeous, melancholy “it’s never over”s of “It’s Never Over”. This is just really hitting the spot right now on a Friday night. Can’t wait to spend a lot of time with this album; it’s going to a special one for me (especially since I just saw them in Bushwick, and that was just awesome).

    Oops. This went too long. But the music…stunning stuff. “Porno” is hot in a Radiohead-hot way. “Normal Person” is a banger. “Here Comes the Night Time” goes places. “Here Comes the Night Time II” is the amazing track nobody is mentioning. “Reflektor” and “Afterlife”…duh, they’re great. And I love all of the tracks I haven’t mentioned, too (“We Exist” omg).

    This, Youth Lagoon, Deerhunter, James Blake, and Autre Ne Veut might just be setting up a nice fight for my favorite of the year.

  32. For anyone that thinks this album is a regression, you must be in the isuckhard camp. This builds on everything they’ve ever done and if anything, shows they can do no wrong regardless of what they are trying to achieve. Did I mention that “Here Comes the Nighttime” might be the catchiest/most fun song of the year? I can’t stop fucking dancing. Long time reader, first time commenter. I plan on getting into the mix here on out. Hail Arcade Fire, Yeezus, Raptor Jesus and D-Tits til the day we die! Stevie Janowski out, if Kenny P says it’s cool…

  33. This is really premature evaluation, the second half is still growing on you. What about balancing with mature evaluation, like, two months later — or one year later. Legendary albums not always appear so in the first place.

    • In that sense, aren’t most reviews a “premature” evaluation? Very rarely do we get a review of something weeks or months after it’s been released.

      And Stereogum has actually been doing mature reviews lately. All of the albums that are turning 10 and 20. You never know what somethings legacy is going to be at the beginning.

  34. I agree on hearing an “attempt to reach out in a whole mess of different directions at once” but only on disc 1. It feels disjointed, but still has some great pieces, some of which are growing on me more.
    Disc 2 shakes that messiness and becomes a cohesive, directional concept album. ‘Here Comes The Night Time II’ serves as an intro by tying the themes of disc 1 with the sounds of disc 2. From there ‘Awful Sound’ through ‘Afterlife’ hold with the Orpheus/Eurydice story and Supersymmetry outros the album in a way that actually felt very ‘In The Backseat’-esque.
    To me, disc 2 is really where this album shines. I can see going forward that I will pick out songs to listen to repeatedly off of disc 1 but I’ve already been frequently listening to disc 2 entirely through since its “release.”

  35. I am really glad this album exists. After listening to it to almost 8 times now, I cannot remember being in love with a rock album since I discovered Radiohead’s catalog for the first time. It’s fantastic, and I am grateful there are bands like Arcade Fire making music like this. I’m also on team second disc rules, just killer sequencing.

  36. “Here Comes the Night Time” is my favorite every time I listen.

  37. Totes Ghost Protes!

  38. It’s good to see so many positive user comments. While this particular album is not for me, I’m glad it’s not disappointing the AF diehards. As for the review, I think it’s dead on. Between the lines, I see a reviewer that desperately wants to like this record but can’t quite commit. Arcade Fire is definitely wheelhouse for the general Stereogum readership, but the many hesitations in this review tell the story that the actual review does not.

  39. I hope it grows on me, I wasn’t too impressed with it on my first run through.

  40. Neither Regine nor Win can really sing, but calling Regine a “way better singer” than her husband is just ridiculous. See: their SNL performance of Sprawl pt. II

  41. I have spent the last five days fully immersing myself in what is easily my favorite album of the last decade – and it won’t be even released until tomorrow.

    Arcade Fire has transformed themselves through Haitian rhythms, 70′s glam rock stomp and LCD Soundsystem – produced electronic synths filtered through the widescreen, emotional lyrics that the band has always delivered on. The scope of this thing is immense as is the joy, the depth of the lyrics and the sheer layers of organic and digital sound that keep revealing themselves on each listen. Musical genres come and go not only from song to song but often within the songs themselves. And after 20+ listens, I am still finding new elements tucked into the layers of the songs due to those multiple listens. It’s not an album that can be glossed over. It demands attention, and unlike any album I’ve heard since Achtung Baby or OK Computer, I prefer to listen to it in sequence, allowing the whole experience wash over me, even if the songs don’t always flow together. There are a couple tracks that I am still warming up to, but I very much appreciate what they bring to the party. And for me, the last four songs are a perfect sequence of electronic lush.

    This is probably the first physical CD I have bought in 5 years and I look forward to continuing to explore it over the next few months.

  42. this album is great. i feel like it’s a semi conscious move toward a more accessible sound.

  43. I’m loving this Album, It’s like a Tarantino movie, it has a lot of wtf moments but you want to watch/listen to it again as soon as its over.

  44. That song is ‘Hang me out to Dry’ and it sounds nothing like ‘It’s never over’

  45. Re: Hang Me Out To Dry, I hear what you’re saying, but it’s pretty attenuated. Similar guitar tones, I guess.

  46. What!? Late-era Pink Floyd had little to no charm or wit! That’s why no one remembers late-era Pink Floyd! Actually, I don’t think I’d ever call Pink Floyd charming, even during their brilliant run through the early 80′s….

  47. hahaha dog next time you plagiarize another writer’s work make sure you delete the link tag that gets automatically added when you copy and paste off a commercial website. LOL.

  48. Attn Stereogum eds: Please do not delete/ban these comments like you did yesterday.

    Aside from his Lady Gaga/hating on the Suburbs/babababababa schtick, this dude is on the mark about the UNFORGIVABLY BAD lyrics on this record. This is light years away from the band that wrote Funeral.

    (I realize my first ever post here is going to be downvoted to hell but still, he’s making a good point.)

  49. I don’t know what tommyx3′s response is about…but you and I are having the same feeling! And it’s nice to know that’s how the album feels for other people…because totally. This is a huge piece of work. Dynamic, interesting/multifaceted, and ultimately just pleasing to the ear.

  50. isuckhard, is that you?

  51. I can definitely envision a mashup of the two… I’ll say that.

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