Under Review: Arcade Fire, ‘Reflektor’

Arcade Fire, “Reflektor” (Merge) Available now Rating: ★ (out of four)

Arcade Fire, “Reflektor”
(Merge)
Available now
Rating: (out of four)

Arcade Fire is searching for an identity. Are they the grandiose rockers of our time — today’s analog to 1991’s U2? Or are they another dance-rock band? Maybe do they want to become a guitar rock/trip hop hybrid?
With LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy producing “Reflektor,” Arcade Fire has turned from bombastic rock into another LCD dance-rock clone with some Massive Attack influence, too.

“Reflektor” tries to do too much. Too long. Too overwrought. Worst of all, there are just too many unnecessary instruments.

The title track and “Here Comes the Night Time” bloat beyond six minutes, presumably for Arcade Fire to fit in more bongos. And if we didn’t get enough the first time around the block, “Here Comes the Night II” can help. Then you can take a very, very long stroll through “Supersummetry,” which clocks at more than 11 minutes.

Though the music often feels like one drum/keyboard loop on repeat, it’s mostly tolerable. Unfortunately, the music’s best attribute is that it props up Win Butler’s paper-flat lyrics. Too often, they repeat (and repeat and repeat) platitudes that double as song titles (“It’s never over” on “It’s Never Over” and “Here comes the night time” on “Here Comes the Night Time”).

His other lyrics are written to show that he’s just like the fans of his indie rock band. That vibe of, “I’m like you. Really, I am,” comes through most in the us-against-them “Normal People” where he sings “Is anything as strange as a normal person? Is anyone as cruel as a normal person?”

“Joan of Arc” shows some promise with its garage punk opening, but it lost me when the guitar drops out and the steady, head-bopping beat dropped in.
I envision legions of Arcade Fires playing the record while they clean their bathrooms, but there’s not much here that’s better than background noise.

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