Arcade Fire are known for being overblown, over-hyped, and intentionally grandiose. During a recent interview on The Colbert Report, Steven Colbert went so far as to very bluntly call them pretentious. The cool performers were seemingly unaffected by the comment. I, however, thought the situation to be quite revealing.
At the time when Canadian act first started out in the early 2000’s, they definitely were a bit pretentious. However, visionaries like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bob Dylan, and Mark Zuckerberg were all seen as pretentious before the impact of their work was fully realized. It’s an essential element for any visionary. Arcade Fire‘s vision was realized at the 2011 Grammy Awards, where they were given the coveted “Album of the Year” award, beating out Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Eminem. All of these artists’ competing albums were much more financially successful and radio friendly. Although, they didn’t embody the political commentary and cultural insight found in The Suburbs. So, how does Reflektor further the culminated vision of their previous work?
Key Tracks: “Reflektor,” “Joan Of Arc,” “Porno,” and “Afterlife”
Leading up to the albums release was an extensive marketing campaign teasing the public with bread crumbs of what to expect from the forthcoming album. Oddly enough, it is this campaign of teasing and overindulgence that makes its way into the album. It’s common in the industry to follow up massive success with experimentation. Cue The Beatles, MGMT, Lil Wayne, etc. Arcade Fire have definitely taken their liberties.
You won’t find the driving punch of The Suburbs or Funeral here. Sure, the album has it’s larger than life moments in “Reflektor,” “Normal Person,” “Joan Of Arc,” “Porno,” and “Afterlife,” but you also get gluttonous tracks like “Supersymmetry,” the eleven-minute overindulgent finale of the album.
What sets Reflektor apart and makes it important is its dance commentary. The entire thing is riddled with hand percussion driven world beats and island dance grooves, MASSIVELY influenced by Haiti’s unique rhythms and the albums producer, James Murphy. Murphy, best known for his work with LCD Soundsystem and DFA Records, is the definitive king of indie dance music.
How is this relevant or important? The music industry has been jumping on the Electronic Dance Music bandwagon as of late. Indie artists are dropping their hardware synths for virtual instruments full of wobbles and presets. Everybody is a DJ.
What Arcade Fire has done here is given us the opposite. Visionaries are non-conformists and pay no mind to convention. They grind on to manifest their dreams, creating their own opposing reflection of common reality or social norms. That is exactly what has happened here. Maybe Arcade Fire are pretentious, but rightly so. This is an album you’ll want to listen to.
– Joseph Noga
Account Executive, Education | FirstCom Music
Production Music Albums In This Style:
Velocity U – 2nd Semester