Contentious Sound: Is Arcade Fire's New Single "Reflektor" Receiving Too Much Hype?

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Arcade Fire - Reflektor

The answer is yes. Arcade Fire’s new single is receiving too much hype. I hate to be that guy— the Debbie downer— but it seems as if everyone is losing their minds over nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I am just as much of a fan of Arcade Fire as the next guy, but “Reflektor” just doesn’t quite live up to the applause it has received thus far. Now, I don’t want to put the blame on the band themselves because, in truth, “Reflektor” isn’t all that bad. But it’s just that—not that bad. I may be jaded given the fact that every blog on this god given earth has covered the song, but I was expecting a whole lot more. In the past, I wasn’t all that into the Montréal collective, however, recent releases — and great new interactive videos — have tided me over. Their formative and highly lauded third LP, The Suburbs, brought this band into the spotlight, but that may prove quite detrimental to the band and any of their future releases from here on out. You’ve heard it time and time again, and as much as I hate to admit it, it almost always rings true: the sophomore slump (or in this case, the senior slump). I dearly hope this is not the case, but based on how their new album is shaping up so far, we may be looking at a new, very average-sounding Arcade Fire.

The answer is no. When I found out that LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy was assuming production duties for Arcade Fire’s highly anticipated follow-up record to The Suburbs, I just about pissed myself with excitement. The outcome, no matter how ludicrous or idiosyncratic it may be, could only be one of sharp, sophisticated persuasion. Yet, I can easily understand why one might be garrishly opposed the incongruous, dance-oriented single “Reflektor.” The unnerving seriousness and inspirative theatricality found in previous records is abandoned for a minimalist, south-of-the-equator jive. “Reflektor” progresses in a languidly pedantic motion, building layers upon layers of dense synth and syncopated jazz instrumentation. At the climax of this rhythmic feat, just before the looping chorus and reverberating melody become monotonous, pop legend David Bowie’s ghoulish vocals appear in juxtaposition to Win Butler’s own velvety chops. Need I say more? For years, the Canadian collective have catered to their cult-like followers, producing a myriad of sounds that harkened upon the greatest joys and most vicious pains life has to offer. They make our stomachs tighten with anxiety, our cardiac muscles twinge in ecstacy, and our eyes glimmer of bright-eyed sobriety. Nothing has changed. Arcade Fire have merely traded in their love-lorn, romanticism for a shiny, new disco ball.

Rebuttal by Angel E. Fraden

Matt Pendrill

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