I don't like it when I feel like I am obligated to listen to an album. It's only happened twice this year: once with The 20/20 Experience, Part 2 and now with Reflektor. I wasn't too crazy about The Suburbs. That is not an indictment on the album or the band, it was a fine album full of songs I really liked. But it was very "Arcade Fire". I had pretty much got what I needed from this band with Funeral; you can't anxiously await a band's masterpiece when it was the first thing they released.
But Reflektor is one of those "music moments" where everyone comes together to listen to an album and talk about it for a few weeks, and then talk about it again with your mom after the Grammys are over.
So, here we go...
The big thing everyone is anticipating with this album is Arcade Fire's "shift in sound". I think for the most part, Arcade Fire play to their new sound really well. It's got a lighter, bouncier feel to it that I think really jibes well with Arcade Fire's established aesthetic. However, I feel like they may have spent too much time focusing on their sound and not enough on songwriting.
There are three songs I really dig: "Reflektor", "We Exist", and "Porno" are all excellent tracks. The bassline on "We Exist" is simply killer. Aside from these three... I like elements of many of the songs. But when you look beyond the fancy new synths, where the songs are not formulaic, they are boring. One big impression I am getting from this album is how self-aware Arcade Fire feel on this album. It's as if they sat around and said "You know, our anthems with bombastic choruses are always a big hit. Let's be sure to do that a lot." Or, "We should put in an ambient synth part here, that's totally artsy." Everything feels a little less organic and a little more planned on this album.
All in all, I like the new direction Arcade Fire have taken. I think that once they are settled in with this "new sound", they will feel a lot more comfortable writing excellent songs again that better fit their dancey attitude. In the meantime, we can hope and pray for a Regine solo album.