Arcade Fire, Reflektor. Arrived today. Here are dispatches from the front.
- Wait, do I have the right disk? Is this Arcade Fire? This isn't the usual textured indie pop/rock sound, it's danceable. Lots of beat, synth, electronics. When did Arcade Fire start doing disco? Or is it more 80s dance? Must have wrong disk in sleeve.
- Oh, wait, yes, that's Win Butler's voice. And the classic Arcade Fire layering and texturing and instrumental density and general tendency to head off in new, complex directions without warning. Characteristic melody lines swing in occasionally.
- Am bopping quietly in seat.
- Sounds a bit like the Bowie reinvention circa Scary Monsters or so, with a touch of Outside.
- Wait, wtf, was that a David Bowie vocal for a line or so?
- Quick google reveals that it was indeed a David Bowie vocal for a line or so. *awards self fangirl Cold Recognition merit badge*.
- This is an extended and rather dirty flirtation with rock and pop history.
- I miss their violin.
- Nice drums. Not quite African, perhaps Caribbean? Keep cropping up.
- Why do I love this? Not my usual thing at all.
- That was thrash punk, but only very briefly.
- Wait, end of the disk already? They've split one massively-long album into two short disks. Seems a bit unnecessary.
- Oh, hello Arcade Fire, there you are. Disk 2 is apparently gentler/lighter, less danceable, more like the Arcade Fire we know and love and are generally intimidated by.
- Still very electronic, but at least the violin swims by occasionally.
- I love this track, it has the classic Arcade Fire build and soar, what is it? "Awful Sound". Are you fucking with us, Arcade Fire?
- 80s synthpop flashbacks. That that didn't go so well for Bowie in critical terms, but I'm really enjoying their take on the sound, possibly at least partially because nostalgia. They seem to be stuffing around with Orpheus/Eurydice motifs.
- These tracks should feel overlong, but really don't.
- The fuck? The end of this track is apparently six minutes of vague, ethereal electronic improvisations over what seems to be the sound of a tape rewinding. Strangely soothing.
- OK, hooked. I love this. It's not an album so much as a sort of explosion; it jolts you out of your expectations on a more or less ongoing basis. This album does not deal in comfort zones other than momentarily, and only because they lull you into a false sense of security. They're doing fascinating things with lyrics and theme which I'm not even properly aware of because I'm so submerged in the sound, and which I may start to unwrap after a few (dozen) more listens. This is an album to swim in.
- I mostly love Arcade Fire for their texture. This definitely delivers. It's also, of course, a direct pandering to my deep-in-my-bones and only semi-intellectual love of anything which consciously stuffs with genre and structural expectation. The Orpheus/Eurydice motifs are semi-ironic, because this sure as hell doesn't lose anything when it looks back.
Subject line is that warning they put on rear view mirrors. Arcade Fire seems to be generally fascinated by reflection and light. Black mirrors, neon, flashbulbs. And with things not being what you expect.
Chunks of this post ganked off my Twitter, incidentally, assembled here for your convenience, or possibly mine.