October 11, 2013


The Complete Guide to Arcade Fire's New Album 'Reflektor'

Arcade Fire/Facebook
Arcade Fire/Facebook

It’s been three years since Arcade Fire released their third album The Suburbs and since then, the group has become the unlikeliest art-rock superstars. Almost a decade after becoming indie blog favorites, their upcoming fourth album Reflektor, a two-disc, 75-minute set out October 28 on longtime label Merge Records, is one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Rolling Stone got an early listen, noting that the album veers from "hardcore punk" ("Joan of Arc") to "industrial-funk strut" ("It's Never Over [Oh Orpheus])" to "pop-leaning late-Eighties Cure" ("We Exist"). While we impatiently wait for the album’s release, here’s your complete guide to the album:

The Producer

For their fourth album, the band enlisted LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy to liven up the band’s sound, injecting more danceable rhythms indebted to post-punk pioneers like Talking Heads. "It's really f-cking epic," Murphy said of the album. The producer told Billboard: "Everyone was amazingly respectful of one another. I’m not sure if it’s a concept record like the last one. I dealt with the holistic record in a non-verbal way. We don’t talk about where the songs come from unless somebody says, 'What I’m going for is more this…' That’s all I got into. I’m not trying to conduct an opera, or a rock opera — a 'ropera' in this case." Murphy worked on all but two songs.

The Rollout

In July, the band responded to a fan’s tweet of "You’re my favorite" with "Thanks. Our new album will be out October 29th." In August, cryptic logos with the word "Reflektor" began to appear in cities across the world alongside an Instagram video of the design being drawn. Speculation grew that the artwork was part of a guerilla marketing campaign for the band’s new album. The band would confirm the campaign later that month with a giant mural in Manhattan, including the same symbols from the drawing.

The Backlash

The band came under fire in September when Slate published an article about Reflektor posters plastered on the side of a private business in Austin, Texas. "When I found out the logo was nothing but a commercial promotion I felt … used,” wrote the store employee’s husband Ian Dille.  “Even—and maybe this is too harsh?—a little betrayed." Frontman Win Butler caught wind of the incident and penned an earnest, handwritten apology, writing, "The logos were supposed to be put up with water soluble paint or chalk so they would come off in the rain. Somewhere down the line someone must have gotten confused and used paint. It is sometimes hard to control  all these tiny details when you are doing something on such a large scale."

The Hype

The band performed new songs "Reflektor" (featuring David Bowie on the studio version) and "Afterlife" on Saturday Night Live and appeared in the show’s skit "New Cast Member Or Arcade Fire?" Following the episode, NBC aired the surreal comedy special/concert Here Comes The Night Time, featuring the band debuting new tracks "Here Comes The Night Time," "We Exist" and "Normal Person." The 30-minute special included skits and cameos by James Franco, Rainn Wilson, Bono, Ben Stiller, Michael Cera, Bill Hader, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Schwartzman, Eric Wareheim, and Aziz Ansari.

The Live Show

No full tour has been announced so far, but the group staged a secret show in Montreal as the Reflektors in small club Salsatheque. The band will perform at the YouTube Music Awards on November 3.

The Interactive Video

The group’s interactive video for "Reflektor," directed by longtime collaborator Vincent Morisset. was filmed in Haiti and "follows a young woman who travels between her world and our own." Like the previously released video for "Wilderness Downtown," the video allowed the viewer to control the effects.

The Initial Reviews

Early reviews have uniformly praised Reflektor. Spin noted, "That majestic, cinematic, anthemic sound is still there but it's subtler, and the group's confidence, swing, and swagger have grown by leaps and bounds," while Rolling Stone called it "extraordinary" and "the best album Arcade Fire have ever made." Consequence of Sound rounded up 17 people to review the title single, with Billboard Contributing Editor David Greenwald calling it "a triumph of haunted disco, the group’s signature dread smoothed across seven minutes of slow-burn rhythm" and CoS’s Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman writing, "Arcade Fire re-emerge with their own pair of dancing shoes yet they’re still clenching onto the smoky art school gravitas that’s got them this far unscathed."

The Track List

Disc one

1. "Reflektor"
2. "We Exist"
3. "Flashbulb Eyes"
4. "Here Comes the Night Time"
5. "Normal Person"
6. "You Already Know”
7. "Joan of Arc"

Disc two              

1. "Here Comes the Night Time II"
2. "Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)”
3. "It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)"
4. "Porno"
5. "Afterlife"
6. "Supersymmetry" 

Arcade Fire’s Reflektor drops October 28.