It is not uncommon for popular musicians to look to foreign nations as a means of influence. Such significant artists as Paul Simon (Graceland), The Police (Outlandos d’Amour) and Blondie (Autoamerican) have all found inspiration in the various musical genres of the Caribbean islands. With the recent release of their fourth studio album Reflektor, Montreal indie-rockers Arcade Fire join the likes of the aforementioned through their incorporation of the Haitian festival music known as rara, cementing them as Artist of the Week.
Arcade Fire Finally Return With ‘Reflektor’
Arcade Fire’s last album, The Suburbs (2010) was a mass success. The album resulted in the band’s first Grammy, claiming the 2011 Album of the Year ahead of such powerhouses as Eminem’s Recovery, Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, and Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster. It also received a Juno Award for Album of the Year, as well as a Britt Award for Best International Album.
Despite its success, front-man and main songwriter Win Butler began working hard on the band’s next album almost right away, even going as far as moving the band to Jamaica for a year to get a better grasp on dominant Caribbean music styles; a major influence that is difficult to miss on the new album.
Reflektor sees our Artist of the Week tastefully blending the island vibes of rara with their already established alternative rock sound. While most songs on the album channel the bands earlier style of melodramatic, anthem-based chant rock, Reflektor provides listeners with a more danceable sound. Such a transition is undoubtedly a result of former LCD Soundsystem front-man James Murphy’s presence as the album’s producer. His influence is patent on songs like “Here Comes The Night Time” and “We Exist,” which create rhythmic movement among listeners with their heavy bass lines and steady drum tracks.
On the second half of the two-disc album, the band journeys off into new land. This could not be more evident than on the album’s eleventh track entitled “Porno”; a hauntingly beautiful synth-ballad with a 1980’s new wave feel. Other ventures from the norm can also be found on the tracks “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” and “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus).”
The two songs channel the obscure songwriting style of their personal friend and fan David Bowie, who actually appears singing backup vocals on Reflektor’s opening track of the same name. Though the album tends to veer away from the band’s usual approach, Reflektor still offers fans the same post-punk/art-rock sound that Arcade Fire has become known for.
The quality of Reflektor should come as no surprise to any who have followed the Canadian outfit’s career thus far. Since their 2004 debut Funeral, Arcade Fire has continued to release new music that builds on the quality of its predecessors, and challenges the social norm.
Many of their songs remain popular years after their initial release (to this day I struggle to contain my excitement when “Wake Up” comes on the stereo), mainly due to their incomparably energetic live performances. It is the quality of these very performances that ultimately keep the spirit of their songs alive, and have solidified Arcade Fire as one of modern music’s most elite acts.
Fans will be happy to know that they will once again get the opportunity to experience such exuberance as the band embarks on their world tour in late November. Tickets, as always, are available at Rukkus.
Love Arcade Fire? Check out their Rukkus page for cheap tickets.