Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Not much time to post so I will be quick.

I’ve never really heard Arcade Fire … well, I must have done inadvertently as they’re one of the biggest bands in the world but I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder. This guy i knew really liked them, he was a nob so I subconsciously rejected them. So why I am writing here about them? Probably because James Murphy produced their latest album and Pitchfork reviewed it at 9.2.

Wow. This is a good record. One miss-step in terms of the track list but apart from that its a a stonking listen. Murphy’s presence is obvious to anyone who’s stalked him as much as we have but … he’s half turned Arcade Fire into Talking Heads. Particularly Remain in Light Talking Heads which of course we’re all familiar with. Afterlife, the track I’ve posted here is very reminiscent in the intro its almost uncanny!

So, I am pretty sure Guy is an AF fan but not sure if Nolan and David shared similar chips on shoulders to me.

Anyway, I love this. I can’t stop listening to it.

What do you think?

PS – I’ve got Spotify Premium so have practically stopped buying CDs, feels weird but am enjoying it. Any opinions on this?

17 comments

  1. whyohwhyohwhy

    I could spend about an hour waxing lyrical about this band and this album. I was head over heels with the new single and I’ve had the album for 8 days, and must’ve listened to it about 25 times now. It’s just incredible. It didn’t really gel for me at the start the first time, but then most albums I love never do at first, and the Suburbs really felt too long and sprawling the first time I heard it too, but I absolutely love it now (and did a few weeks in).

    There’s been a fair bit of criticism from a lot of people on Reflektor. Murphy’s influence is undeniable (and I very much get the Remain In Light references as well brother Joseph), and there are some very LCD-ish songs, but just when you think they’re going to go one way, then Arcade Fire stamp their own mark on them indelibly – think the sax on Reflektor, or the reggae beats of Flashbulb Eyes, or xylophone on Here Comes The Night Time – and the sense of ennui and bleakness tht was to the fore on Suburbs carries on. Also, lots of ire about the length of songs and it being two CDs, again I think it’s misplaced. A lot of stuff is intros/outros (Murphy at hand here) but it’s only the outro on the last track (Supersymmetry) that pushes it over. Most of the songs over 5 minutes feel just right, and for me there’s a lot to be said about a band that genuinely aren’t really about making singles, but the album as a format still. God knows it’s a dying art these days.

    The songs are definitely more of a lo-fi feel, but underneath the fuzzy guitars and reverb is some seriously amazing production, as you’d expect. Listen on headphones, as you gain so, so much by doing so. Here Comes The Night Time is already one of my favourite Arcade Fire records, and I’ve only had it a week or so. While people are bemoaning it moving away from their ‘sound’, in reality Neon Bible was a big shift from Funeral, and Suburbs just the same. It’s great to see some progression in a band, as I’m not sure I’d have stuck with 4 albums like Funeral. They’re blossoming as their career goes on, and if they shed some fans because they make an album they want, then so what? It’s the same premise as Kid A…. Radiohead didn’t want to do another Ok Computer and I think ‘good on ’em, it’s their band’.

    I’m going to see them at the Roundhouse tomorrow night, as I managed to get tickets for their ‘Reflektors’ gigs (different band name, playing only stuff from this album, fancy dress/dressed up crowd etc etc) and I can’t wait to hear these live. Having seen them in Hyde Park and the o2, it’ll be amazing seeing them somewhere so small for once. Their current of gigs has (again) annoyed a lot of people, hipsters and press that no doubt expected to get a few new songs and then Wake Up and Lights Out, but it’s not their call. I love the new album and I’d be happy to hear them just play it from start to finish.

    It’s fair to say they’re probably my favourite band alongside Hot Chip now LCD are no more, and this has just upped them a notch.

  2. whyohwhyohwhy

    Oh, on the video as well, not sure where it’s from (some sort of West Indian or Haitian film dubbed, but the woman’s called (at least here) Eurydice, which is one of the song titles on the album – Awful Sound (on Eurydice) – and the guy singing in the natty gold number is being called Orfeu, which must be a similar reference to the next song on the second disk – It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus). It’s an odd video, but it’s a great great record!

  3. David Allison

    Interesting, because I’ve really given up with AF. If there were ever a band that gave diminishing returns, for me it’s this one. Funeral, their first album, remains a classic of the last decade, a stunning debut that still blows me away. Their second had flashes of greatness (Keep The Car Running is amazing) but was patchier. And their third I thought was vastly overrated. So I’ve given up. I’m guessing you’re saying I should change my mind. Problem is that I didn’t even really like the single that much, it got on my nerves after a while. I think my problem is that they take themselves SO seriously. There’s a touch of U2 pomposity about them. However, based on what you guys are saying, I will delve into this long opus and give it a go. I mean, James Murphy and all that, I ought to love it, right?

    Finally, Brother Joey, I must pick up on this:
    “PS – I’ve got Spotify Premium so have practically stopped buying CDs, feels weird but am enjoying it. Any opinions on this?”
    Yup. Afraid I’m with Thom Yorke on this. You’re killing the music industry if that’s the only way you’re listening to music. Spotify are a dreadful business model that are destroying artist revenues. I’ve stopped buying physical CD and buy via download now a lot, but I do use Spotify now and again to check out if I like something, but if I do, I buy it. I sort of think it ‘s the least we should do to support the musicians we love!

  4. misterstory

    Hi. After that rather chippy slap on the wrist I would like to clarify my position on Spotify and suggest that ‘other opinions are available’. The reason I looked into Spotify premium is that I had bought loads of well reviewed albums that I thought were shite. Total waste of money. The music industry has always had trouble with quality and control and in my opinion will most likely always have this issue. I do still buy CDs and I do still download some stuff (paid for). What I tend to buy is stuff from bands that I love and want in my collection and stuff that I have listened to, liked and loved on Spotify. Therefore I ‘try before I buy’ – the major issue for the industry therefore is quality control, if it’s shit, I won’t buy it were previously I might have done. Surely spotify premium is more beneficial to the industry than illegal downloads? Also, the monopoly of iTunes is not great for the industry either. The software is horrible. I think it is also killing the album format due to single track downloads and focus on singles / one track wonders. I think Spotify suits the album format much better which is why I made my decision. The impact for the industry is thus – they get some revenue from me for testing their product (spotify), I do buy less albums but I buy carefully. All businesses have to fight for our hard earned cash these days and the music industry is no different. I still buy more music than 90% of the population, yes I buy less than I did but there is a reason for that. Quality.

  5. David Allison

    Sorry, just re-read what I wrote and blimey, it does sound chippy. Apologies, it wasn’t my aim!
    I agree that iTunes is a shit piece of software, but it does at least give artists proper revenue (it’s a similar cut for the artist to a CD sale). And yeah, maybe it’s killing the album, except actually, album sales have actually risen in the last few years!
    Spotify is easy to use and well thought out, it’s all true. But it doesn’t pay artists hardly a bean. And if it didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be able to listen to whatever we wanted and we’d have to pay for our music.

    This Grizzly Bear article from last year keeps coming to mind. If bands of their stature are struggling because no one buys records anymore, imagine what it’s like further down the food chain:
    http://www.vulture.com/2012/09/grizzly-bear-shields.html

  6. whyohwhyohwhy

    Great article on Grizzly Bear. If you’re a new band starting out with some buzz it must be so depressing to know you’re fucked trying to make money from selling music. If you’re just using Spotify to test drive some stuff, that’s ok, but if it replaces buying music then we’re all fucking doomed. I can’t stress how terrible the deal for bands are from it. Saying it’s better than illegal downloads is no justification.

  7. whyohwhyohwhy

    Oh, and I was at the gig on the Monday at the Roundhouse. Holy shit it was good. As a long-time fan, having only seen them in Hyde Park and the o2 (oh how I wish to have seen them at Union Chapel) this was a hugely exciting prospect and I think it mainly delivered. The fact everyone was dressed up added a dimension, as nearly everyone got into the spirit.

    As for the gig itself, it’s one of my favourite venues, so it was always going to sound good. I have to admit to have gone a bit loco with the album since its release, having listened to it about 20+ times before the gig, but there’s nothing like the excitement of new songs, and seeing them live so soon after release. It’s all so fresh.

    I felt they were pretty much on point for most of it. The new stuff sounded great – especially Here Comes The Night Time, Reflektor, Normal Person and We Exist – definitely picking the rockier stuff from Reflektor was a good call, and hearing Power Out and Crown Of Love was great.

    We were at the back downstairs for much of it, mainly because it was the only place we had space to dance. Once you got in a bit it was such a crush there was no space to do it and you invariably bumped into someone, who then complained, because obviously, going to a gig of a band you love involves standing still and listening as if on the sofa at home. The very front was going for it, but between there and the columns holding up the top it was a miserable bunch, however well dressed. Bloody London 😉

  8. whyohwhyohwhy

    And if you scroll through the comments you’ll see a post almost identical to mine, given that it’s me on the guardian comments section too 😉 I’m thestsowmassive, and I often pop up there, but not often about music, as most of the people that do are idiots!

  9. misterstory

    Ok – I’ve finally got round to reading the Grizzly Bear article.

    I feel I should read it again when I have more time as my initial response is very different to you two. My initial response is as quoted in the article; ‘boo hoo you’re not mega rich, make a different choice’ listen to your friend quoted in the article ‘“I feel like if you’re in this at all to make money,” she says, “then you’re crazy. Unless you’re Lana Del Rey or something, it’s a moot point. You’d better be doing it for the love of it, because nobody’s making real money.”

    They get to do what they love, their passion all day every day and they get paid. If they want outright commercial success then they need to change their creative outlook … ‘sell-out’? If not then quit bitching or at least get a new manager with a better business brian to maximise the revenue available from their massive following. There are hundreds of thousands of artisits who work jobs and spend every penny and minute on making music for internet followers and literally don’t make a single pound from their efforts (and perhaps aren’t doing it for that).

    The world has changed, a smaller amount of folk are rich. A smaller amount of musicians are mega-rich. More people are working shit jobs. More musicians are making less money. Our generation will be the first to to be worse off than their parents. In the music-marker-place there is so much choice out there. There are so many record deals. I think there are more teenage girls with guitars with record contracts than without them. There are many one album wonders. At least these guys have multi-album success and have carved out a niche. They are doing far better than most. There are alternative models for funding album recording, releasing and selling which would suit an artist like GB. Explore these. Change the picture.

    Rant part 2: Athletes (as in athletics). 99% of athletes make fuck all money. British athletes survive on around £15k p.a. lottery funding unless they get sponsorship deals, less than 2% of British Olympic Athletes in 2012 had sponsorship deals. I’d like to know what they would think about reading this article. As a music / sports fan I am not sure what I think is the more worthy effort becoming an olympic athlete or recording albums / touring the world. Hmmmm, hang on, yes I do.

    The comments on this article make more interesting reading. A varied response some supportive some not.

  10. David Allison

    Sorry, but I don’t agree, Joey. That’s a funny old argument. You’re basically saying that yes, the industry has gone to shit but just because they love what they do, they shouldn’t moan. For me, there’s a lot of problems with that. Firstly, there is clearly a problem with sustainability with smaller bands. That means less will survive, more will throw the towel in and a smaller amount of interesting music is going to get made on the margins. It also means that the major labels will be even more conservative than they already are and that is certainly not a good thing.

    I would make an analogy with football. Grass roots football is in a shocking state, the number of kids playing it is down, the wage levels in the professional lower leagues have collapsed and it’s almost certain that a lot of clubs will go to the wall in the next decade. So should we argue that, because a lower league footballer gets to do something they enjoy, then we should just shut up?

    There are much wider problems than whether Grizzly Bear should just grin and bear it (sorry!), even if as a big-league, very successful indie band, they’re not even earning enough to get a mortgage. The starving artist has always been a troubling stereotype. People get so much enjoyment from music. Don’t we all want a model that will continue to support those making it?

  11. misterstory

    Yeah I figured that might be controversial but I wasn’t being so for the sake of it. I guess some things just push buttons and it depends what/where your buttons are. Your initial summary of my point is a bit simplistic but its not a million miles away. The industry has gone to / is going to shit, I agree. For me that means that a change-up is needed and there are ways to make money out of it or relax into the fact that you won’t.

    I am not supportive of record companies making a killing while artists suffer.

    I do have an issue with anyone sounding like they might be entitled to something.

    I don’t agree that less interesting music will be made. Look at ‘dance music’ white label tracks, remix’s ,nobody makes any £ of those but it’s the beating heart of interesting things being done without commercial success. Hip Hop mix tapes is another example. Occasionally someone will stumble across a commercial success but much is done for the love. Look at the underground ‘urban’ movements of the last 5-10 years in the UK, huge amounts of music and ground-breaking experimentation happened on-line and was shared through the community. A few people made big from it but they were the people that wanted to make big from it. Perhaps these guys deserve big cash and perhaps many would love to but they know they’d need to go pop to make it big. That’s no different now than it was 20 years ago.

    The internet has made music so accessible and has flooded the market. That means the price comes down. There is an issue there.

    Yes I want a sustainable model. I love crowd-funding models and think that’s an excellent way fwd. I love self-released stuff look at Wknd (or however he’s spelling it) he’s on global tours and selling all sorts of shit off the back of self released bedroom recorded albums. Look at the impact of the Grey Album. One of Brorther Nolan’s fave albums last year was self-released freebie. While I am not suggesting that free music is a right, some have used it to make money through other avenues.

    I don’t disagree with any of your points as to what you want. I just find that article a hard read. It annoyed me. I blogged. I annoyed you. Its the circle of life.

    I love you Brother David.

    • David Allison

      I love ya right back with bells on.

      I agree with some of what you say. I think that crowd-sourcing and self-release is definitely part of it. Kristin Hersh put out the new Throwing Muses by funding it from fans, and very cleverly they released the CD as part of a very beautiful book – a thing you’d really want to own. Very smart. I also think that the revival of vinyl – which these days comes with a download code too so you can own it in both formats – is part of it.

      I think what irks me is that there is a Web 2.0 attitude that paying for stuff is so last century. There are plenty of people in the generation(s) below us that have never paid for music. This NPR blog from a while back and its outraged response was an interesting case in point: http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/2012/06/16/154863819/i-never-owned-any-music-to-begin-with
      The difference now is that it’s easy for people to get their music for free. Other than taping each other’s stuff on cassette, we didn’t have that option. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok. And yes, some artists will get round this in smart new ways. And others won’t. But yeah, it pisses me off that a band of Grizzly Bear’s stature are earning fuck all. I don’t see it as privileged musicians moaning. I think they have ever right to comment on it.

      Someone’s still making money from music. It just sure as hell ain’t musicians. It’s happening in society in many walks of life. A few rich people are getting rich and everyone else is getting fucked in the ass. It’s bullshit.

  12. misterstory

    Now we’re talking;

    ‘Someone’s still making money from music. It just sure as hell ain’t musicians. It’s happening in society in many walks of life. A few rich people are getting rich and everyone else is getting fucked in the ass. It’s bullshit.’

    I agree. This is bigger than music for me.

    There’s a very good book called ‘The Pirates Dilemma’ that I read a few years back about the internet paradox of access to content/inability to earn from content. Might be worth downloading a bootleg version from a file share sight? Or you could borrow it from me …. sorry sorry sorry, you could buy it?

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