Across their previous three albums Arcade Fire (or The Arcade Fire as they are credited in the liner notes) have developed a sound that I could only describe as indie-prog and on album number four they continue this trend.
A double album with a cover clearly designed for gatefold vinyl, Reflektor runs the gamut of sounds the band have created in the past from guitar heavy indie rock to lighter, almost dream pop, tones all finding a place here. Added to this is a heavier load of synth-esque and pseudo-disco styles which could easily tip a band who already have a painfully hip feel into the cult of hipster.
Thankfully this doesn’t happen here and Arcade Fire remain in control of things as a leading force in taking this sound, which has become more prevalent since their arrival, into the mainstream, while being at the same time, it seems, very much their own thing without compromising.
Each of Arcade Fire’s previous records have, to a greater or lesser extent, had something of a conceptual feel to them an Reflektor is no different, though far less pronounced than The Suburbs. What we get here is what mostly feels like a conceptual mood record as the majority of the tracks seem to flow into one another and, while they don’t all sound the same, it is hard to find any, other than the title track, which stand out.
While this could be seen as a criticism, and my personal feelings are torn on this subject, it does make for something that is becoming more rare, particularly in mainstream, charting records, that this is a complete album package that really needs to be heard in this fashion, rather than amongst other tracks on shuffle.
With their slightly detached vocal style Arcade Fire can, at times, be slightly emotionally distant, but when this happens the music, which hides its evident complexities with a sheen of well produced pop simplicity (and I mean that in a good way), comes to the fore and, while I can’t see this record having the same live impact as The Suburbs, it does make for something that you can spend genuine time with as it unravels.
While this review was written after only one dedicated listen to Reflektor, during which it was certainly enjoyable, I was also left with the impression that the more time spent with this record the more it would reveal which is certainly the hallmark of all good albums.