Arcade Fire LP dazzles with danceable songs, musical complexities

Arcade Fire has done it. Win Butler and his posse of eclectic harmonizers have finally created an album that epitomizes the hipster-dance-party genre. Didn’t know that was a genre? Well Arcade Fire has made it one. Beautifully produced and brilliantly marketed, Reflektor plays like a modern symphony, an other-worldly dreamgasm blending post-punk sensibilities, dance beats, pop-inspired melodies, crystal-clear indie rock guitars, neo-disco whims and Caribbean rhythms. Opener and title track “Reflektor” employs crisp drums and guitars, as well as an eerie echoed chant of “just a reflection of a reflection of a reflection,” that sets the tone for the album — a danceable collection of tracks that hint at darker moments to be had. Reflective imagery is incorporated into every aspect of the production. The lyrics champion the device of repetition, like looking into a mirror that reflects another mirror behind you. During performances, everything on stage glistens like glass. Even the sleeve of the vinyl record sparkles like a rainbow.

The entire LP plays seamlessly, flowing from one intoxicatingly disjointed track to the next and still managing to pull everything into one cohesive mass of incomprehensibly imaginative music. Arcade Fire is clearly paying homage to new wave and post-punk, but it avoids the sweetness of the former and the violence of the latter, finding a niche somewhere mysterious, shadowy, nuanced. This style is exemplified on “Here Comes the Nighttime,” which includes a trancy wall-of-sound background juxtaposed against joltingly bright guitar stabs, creating the effect of playing in a cavern. After multiple tempo changes, it begins to sound like Vampire Weekend covering Bauhaus. “Porno,” a breathless study in paranoia, features a dark piano melody and a hazy, droning synth. Right when the onslaught of upbeat tracks might begin to wax repetitive, “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” offers necessary respite in its slow crescendo from soft emotion to the type of moving, spiritual climax for which Arcade Fire is known.

Amidst all the fun and surprise of Reflektor, listeners are constantly reminded of just how masterful the songwriting is. “Afterlife” sounds like a last hurrah, the final moment of joy on the dance floor as a party dies down, musically hinting at the beginning of the album, but more subdued, introspective. And as its horns and croons fade out and “Supersymmetry,” the quiet epilogue to the piece, slithers in, you can almost see a pink sun rising above the last stragglers tripping over red solo cups out into a faintly buzzing alley.

Arcade Fire has always been more than adept at closing out albums. Now they can close out your parties too.
Key Tracks: Honestly this is an ALBUM album. Don’t break it up.