Arcade Fire: 'Reflektor'

Maybe we should have seen this coming. I mean, when the Arcade Fire closed their last album (2010's The Suburbs), it was with the disco-rave up “The Sprawl II,” arguably that record's best, and undoubtedly its most fun, track. Now there's Reflektor, which disco-doubles down across a *ahem* sprawling 80-minutes of suped-up grooves and tribal polyrhythms. It's a Re-Invention in capital letters, brazenly summoning touchstones like Remain in Light and Achtung Baby. Even Bowie, the chameleon himself, is here on backup vocals to christen the pulsating title track. Early on, Reflektor earns those associations. “Normal Person” is the best Ziggy Stardust/Talking Heads collab never written. “Here Comes the Night Time” bottles the rhythmic frenzy of carnival better than any Canadians should be capable of. By the time the sleek “Joan of Arc” closes disc one, Reflector may even suspiciously sound like the Arcade Fire's best album. But then there's the pesky disc two which, despite occasional highlights (“It's Never Over,” “Afterlife”), boils down to, in a word, plodding. Whether they simply ran out of energy or ideas, it's clear that the early dynamism failed to carry through this backstretch. So it's not perfect, but what re-invention record ever is? There's plenty on Reflektor to get excited about. And like any successful mid-career modification, it more than leaves you fired up for what's coming next.

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