on October 30, 2013
Arcade Fire is one of my favorite bands; in fact, they are the only band making music today that I care about (other than Springsteen), and I thank my friend who introduced me to them.
So I was really excited when I first heard they were releasing a new album.
I didn't really like Reflektor on the first two listens, but something about it haunted my dreams, and by the third and fourth listens, I loved it.
I cannot even describe how it has made me feel this past week.
For me at least, one of the reasons for (listening to) music is to make you feel happy for being alive or make you realize you are not alone, even if life kinda still sucks.
This is what this record has done for me. I am almost embarrassed to be gushing so, but it's been a long time since a piece of art has affected me as much.
It's really hard to discern my favorite songs, but Afterlife is the one that's on my mind today.
Reflektor is one of those albums that you really just have to sit down and listen to all the way through with a glass of wine or a glass of whiskey, by yourself or with your loved one as they sleep in the other room, gratitude washing over you, and hoping that maybe she wakes up to dance, or if she doesn't, that she is having beautiful dreams.
on October 31, 2013
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars
Arcade Fire were well overdue for a critical backlash. Even before their surprise upset Grammy nod, the band was clearly no longer an indie darling upon the release of The Suburbs, but an arena-rock band ascending to take the throne of the Next U2/Springsteen/etc. Critics love underdogs, but they're wary of a winner. To make matters worse, the band did some things that made them look like, well, dicks. Crashing CMJ, turning away fans who weren't in costume from surprise shows, and masquerading as an "indie band" called (in a masterstroke of subterfuge) The Reflektors - these publicity stunts may have attracted more negative than positive attention. So it's no surprise that Reflektor has been getting some negative notices in the press.
It's just a shame that the critics are taking it out on one of the best albums of the year.
Most of the early criticism around Reflektor has been that it's indulgent - all the tracks are too long, overly pretentious, and don't have the content to sustain their running time. First, let me dismiss the pretention claim - do you like Arcade Fire? Because if you do, you like pretentious things. It's been in the band's DNA from the very start - they began their debut with a four-song suite! - and has only increased as time has gone on. If anything, this is less pretentious than The Suburbs - there are no hamfisted T.S. Eliot references here. Next, the tracks are too long. Somehow this wasn't a complaint for LCD Soundsystem's last album, where almost every track was 8-9 minutes, but is a problem when Arcade Fire average around 6. The release of the title track should have been a wake-up call - Reflektor is generally more dance-oriented, and the tracks run longer as a result. But here is my most fundamental disagreement with the critics - the band absolutely has enough ideas to sustain each song. The title track alone finds room for at least four melodies in its choruses, and this isn't including a sublime bridge featuring the Thin White Duke himself.
Perhaps the real problem, then, is a sense that there is simply Too Much to digest here. That's because Reflektor is not just a throwback in genre stylings, but also to the idea of the double album. Much like the most legendary rock double albums (e.g., London Calling, Exile on Main Street, Zen Arcade) this is the band stretching out, showing off their range, letting their ideas sprawl a bit. Going in with this in mind, the album is actually pretty easy to listen to in full.
It helps that most of it is propulsive. Disregarding the ambient interlude at the end of the album (more on that later) the only really beatless song is a reprise of Here Comes The Night Time - and that comes almost as a brief respite after the whirlwind of Disc 1. After the opening disco salvo of Reflektor and We Exist, the band does dubby reggaeton (Flashbulb Eyes), overheated salsa (portions of Here Comes the Night Time) and glam rock stomp (Joan of Arc). There's even a rock freakout thrown in for good measure (Normal Person). Tempos are generally mid-to-high throughout, and the result is almost as exhausting as it is exhilarating.
It's almost a good thing that Disc 2 takes it down a notch, kicking off after the reprise with the gorgeous, woozy sing-a-long of Awful Sound, part one of a sublime set of paired tracks (loosely) themed around the tale of Orpheus. Awful Sound is something of a minor miracle in itself, a track that by any definition shouldn't work, combining as it does a Hey Jude-like chant with Latin percussion and, of all things, a synth line that seems pulled from a Boards of Canada record. Even when the song is swallowed by roaring feedback, it's triumphant. Its companion piece, It's Never Over, begins with an aggressive 80s Bowie-funk strut and call-and-response lyrics, but the bridge softens into something genuinely touching.
Maybe there really is too much going on in this album, or at least too much to talk about - I haven't even mentioned the gorgeous ending couplet of Afterlife and Supersymmetry (semi-gratuitous ambient ending aside) or some of the more redundant tracks on the album (the mournful bounce of Porno could easily have been relegated to a B-side, and You Already Know sounds like it belongs on an earlier record rather than this one). But again - think double album. Excess is the point. And so much of this is very good, and so little of it is actually gratuitous, and most importantly, none of it is problematic to the extent that it cheapens what's around it. For the price of a single album, you're definitely getting your money's worth. Arcade Fire are stretching and growing as artists, and the results are well worth savoring.
on October 29, 2013
Like approximately 3 billion other people, I really liked their previous albums, and i was honestly a bit disappointed with this one on the first listen, and even on the second and third. But at some point -- somewhere around the 4th time through It's Never Over/Hey Orpheus,I thought this is actually a pretty great album. The songs tend to run a litter longer than I might like, but there is really a lot going on in this album. It might actually be their best album, but I think I need a few more listens to really start to get a good sense of it.
on October 29, 2013
If you are like many Arcade Fire fans, then you already know how amazing this album is. The album was posted on YouTube for streaming 5 days before its official release--a brilliant move, as it became a certain buy for me after a few playthoughs. However, if you are listening for the first time, note that Arcade Fire has definitely evolved since their previous effort. Though the album may not hit home on your first listen, subsequent session revealed something new, a hidden gem, a new favorite track. This is a testament to how much depth this album possesses. There are no fillers: even "Here Comes the Night Time II" serves a purpose as a transitional song into disc 2. The ambition of this album is simply astounding, covering a wide array of themes. It will mean something different to each individual listener, but I will say that this strives to heights not seen since Funeral.
Personal highlights of the album for me include:
Reflektor - Producer James Murphy's impact is most evident here, as the sound is a hybrid of LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire. The single foreshadows the evolution of the band while remaining uniquely Arcade Fire.
Here Comes the Night Time - A song inspired by inspired by their trip to Haiti, evident in both sound and lyrics. Full of tempo changes, the song can't help but make you feel the urge get up and dance.
Normal Person - One of the most divisive songs on the album, manifested with Win's question "Do you even like Rock and Roll music?" Either you will love or hate this unabashed rock song.
Joan of Arc - Caught my attention immediately with its hook, and remained fresh after many listens. A fitting tribute to the heroine.
It's Never Over - Simply a beautiful song. Regine's echos at the end catapult this to one of the best tracks.
Afterlife - A fitting climax to the album before the send off. This will be the favorite song for many listeners, myself included.
This is the most well rounded Arcade Fire album to date, and I would rank it only behind Funeral in terms of overall quality. Arcade Fire has definitely evolved in a different direction, and for the better. The aspirations for Reflektor were incredibly high, and it has more than met it.
on October 30, 2013
You have to give Arcade Fire points for ambition. Since emerging on the indie music scene with the their lauded 2004 debut they've managed to become one of the most diverse and exciting bands of the past decade. All of this culminated in taking home a Grammy for Album of the Year for their third release, The Suburbs. They may come off at times as overly serious, heavy-handed, and a bit pretentious but I can't deny that they make music that sticks with me and clearly their ever-growing fan base is a testament to their talent for pulling people in with compelling music. At this point the stakes are higher than they've ever been and the band did a masterful job of giving us virtually no information about this record prior to its release. A subtle yet brilliant marketing campaign and a music video were about all we had going in. So can this Canadian tour de force pull off another ambitious effort, which happens to be a double album? The answer is...kind of but not really.
By now most of you have probably seen the music video or heard the title track. It's a great opener and its disco rifts make it both danceable and slightly eerie. There's certainly a thread of LCD Soundsystem running through this LP and it fits the band quite comfortably. Songs like "You Already Know" and "Flashbulb Eyes" are remarkably fresh and bounce along with sweet melodies. "Normal Person" feels a bit more like their earlier material, a rockier and darker look at life that finds frontman Win Butler proclaiming "I've never really met a normal person." When I think about it I have to admit I'm not sure I have either and then suddenly the genius of the song begins to take effect. The first disc closes with "Joan of Arc", a raucous and driving number that manages to blend French backing vocals with Butler's solid delivery. It's a great ride and closes the first disc admirably.
Disc 2 begins with "Here Comes the Night Time II", a continuation of "Here Comes the Night Time" on the first disc. These songs give the album a bit more atmosphere and hint at the album's darker themes of isolation and death woven throughout the narrative. "Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)" and "It's Never Over (Hey Orpheus)" are clearly sister tracks that flow well together. Butler has stated in interviews that the 1959 film Black Orpheus was a major influence and with these tracks he's given a new canvas to work with, complete with tempo shifts and dynamic ups and downs that make them two of the most fascinating cuts on the whole record. "Porno" recalls with 80's with buzzing synths, thick bass, and an electronic beat. "Afterlife" is solid but "Supersymmetry" is a dull and aimless closer that does little to bring the album full circle. Disc 2 is a bit quieter and more obtuse, meaning it'll probably be the disc that many really struggle with.
This is an interesting album and certainly one with a lot to explore. However, I can't just blindly give them high marks simply because of who they are and ultimately I feel this is an average album. It lacks the energy and hooks of their previous releases, in many cases sacrificing melody for dance beats and tight grooves. The band is spectacular as always but they also sound more buried and distant this time around. To put it simply: there's nothing here that excites me the way previous tracks like "Rebellion (Lies)", "The Well and the Lighthouse", or "Suburban War" do. It's lacking a certain something that repeated listens have not yet revealed to me. Don't get me wrong, it's good and I'll come back to it from time to time. I just feel they allowed experimentation to overrun melody this time around and that keeps me from feeling quite as invested as I'd like.
on October 29, 2013
I first had a taste of Arcade Fire when my brother was playing their debut album "Funeral" in his car. I had no idea who they were, but I liked their sound. I finally found out it was Arcade Fire and I immediately bought my own copy. It turned out that the song "Wake Up" was also getting commercial exposure in movie trailers and Super Bowl ads during that time too. The album was a masterpiece as a whole. I found out that the band was comprised of many musicians and I loved it. Then I checked out their second album "Neon Bible" and it was more of the amazing baroque indie sound but much darker. Though the album is my least favorite of theirs, I still love it to death. Finally, "The Suburbs" was released and it was their first number one album. It was also just as good, if not much better than "Funeral". Beautiful music. It won Album of The Year at the Grammys and I was so happy for them while most people were confused at who they were. They really deserved the win. Now, 3 years later they release viral videos and graffiti ads promoting a new album. Then they released the music video for the lead single and title track of the album "Reflektor" featuring David Bowie. It was a different sound, but a very great song. I think Ive listened to the song at least 10 times a day until they released yet another lyric/music video of the song "Afterlife". It was in my opinion even better than "Reflektor" and the video was just perfect. I just couldn't wait for the new album. Well it has finally arrived and I could not be happier. I thought they wouldn't be able to top their last album, but I think they might have with this epic double disc set. Here is a track by track review.
1. Reflektor: The beginning tribal drums remind me of The Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil" a bit. Then the song turns into an indie rock disco track. Many immediately compared the sound to LCD Soundsystem, who's frontman produced the album. At first I didn't think the chorus was great, but then as it was repeated more and more it became so infectious. The way Regines and Wins vocals intertwine is magical. Regine also sings some verses in French beautifully. David Bowie gives a haunting guest vocal. Favorite lyric is "Thought you were praying to the resurrector, turns out it was just a reflektor". Great song to start off this great album with. 10/10
2. We Exist: The song immediately starts with a bass similar to "Billie Jean" with some sexy "na na nas". The vocals are so smooth. This is probably Arcade Fires most groovy song. It was first played live on Saturday Night Live, but I'm glad I can finally hear the studio version. 3 minutes into the song the synths take over a bit and the vocals become more calm. The last 2 minutes of the song get even better. The songs bass will definitely get you moving. 10/10
3. Flashbulb Eyes: At first I thought I wasn't going to like the song because of its short length. But I'm glad I was proven wrong. This is a groovy trippy song. The instrumentation of this song is amazing. I can see this playing at a parade in a forest at night in Haiti. I wish the song was at least a minute longer though. It does lead into the next song rather smoothly. 9.5/10
4. Here Comes The Night Time: Another song that was played on Saturday Night Live well, but I'm glad to hear the album version finally! The song starts out quick before slowing down into a groovy dance beat similar to The Killers song "Believe Me Natalie" just slightly. The synths really give this an 80s feel at times. Nearly 2 minutes into the song it turns into a slightly different sound with playful keyboards. 4 and a half minutes into the song things pick up pace in beautiful fashion similar to in Funerals "Wake Up". This change in pace makes you feel like youre in the middle of a celebration in Haiti with Arcade Fire at "night time". See what I did there? The last minute of the song is a perfect sing along to end the song with! 10/10
5. Normal Person: This song is like a rocking sister song to "Modern Man". This is definitely Arcade Fires most rock n roll sounding song. There is a perfect guitar riff that permeates the song throughout. It is destined to become a classic guitar riff that will be covered over and over again! This is going to be a great concert song to get the crowd hyped. Regine also has a haunting vocal part during the bridge. The ending has a really quick fast guitar part that I kind wish was used more! 10/10
6. You Already Know: This hand clapper of a song is really feelgood. This song took me a few listens to get into, but its worth it. It really gets better with repetition. The chorus sounds the best toward the end of the song with Regines backing vocals! Great song about seizing the moment! 9.5/10
7. Joan of Arc: The song starts out with a punk rocker spirit. Then it turns into an anthemic song for the road. The drums have that "We Will Rock You" spirit just a bit. Regine showcases more of her French vocals, but not as good as in the title track, but still good! The chorus seriously gets better every time I hear it! This song might become a grower for most though. There are some nice guitar moments sprinkled throughout the song, especially toward the end. The song ends abruptly with silence to end the track. Great way to end dico 1 of this masterpiece. 9.5/10
1. Here Comes the Night Time part 2: The silence from disc 1 leads into this sequel to the previous song of the same title. This calm electronic song is very relaxing, especially toward its end. Great calming start to the second disc. 9/10
2. Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice): The song starts out with the tribal drums before a sexy Bass starts up. There is an apocalyptic sound to the beginning, but 2 minutes into the song it starts to sound more uplifting and beautiful. There is something very emotional about Wins vocals, especially considering the Greek story of Orpheus this and most of the album is inspired by. 3 minutes into the song it gets even more beautiful with added backing vocals from Regine! This is a very experimental epic and beautiful song. This will sound great live. 10/10
3. Its Never Over (Oh Orpheus): This song is more dance-y after the heartwrenching previous song. This might instantly be one of my favorite tracks of all time. The guitars and dance beat are just infectious! Regine is more prominent in this song and she does more of her French vocals. The chants of "Hey Orpheus" are typical Arcade Fire and remind me of "Neighborhood 2" just a bit. There are nice horns in there too! Near 4 minutes into the song Win and Regine compliment each other vocally so perfectly! The final minute of the song is very very chill. Probably the best progressive indie rock song ever. 10/10
4. Porno: This finger snapping song is very synthbased in a great way. As many of said, this one sounds like it could've been used in the Drive movie soundtrack. This is a really really sexy song. The sexiest song from the band. I mean the title already hinted at that though. Win gives some of his best vocal performances too. Honestly this one sounds like it was produced by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. That is a compliment! Great different song for the band. One of the best as well. 10/10
5. Afterlife: This is my new favorite song from the band. The dance beat and the U2 Achtung-Baby-esque guitars are amazing and catchy. The music video works so well too using clips from the classic movie "Black Orpheo", which I now need to see! The subject of this song is touchy and very emotional. The chorus is one of the best from the band. If I was in charge, this would be the next song of the year at the Grammys! I don't know what else to say. Just perfect and timeless. 11/10
6. Supersymmetry: The title sounds like something "Muse" would do. I had two feelings when I saw the 11 minute length of the song. I was excited for epicness, and I was also hesitant at having to sit back at a possibly boring track. I ended up somewhere in the middle of the two feelings. Luckily, this track is far from boring. In fact, its one of the more exciting songs from the band. Very beautiful vocals from both Win and Regine symmetrically. The song is very relaxing at the start with some 80s synths. The U2 inspired sound is also present. 3 minutes into the track it starts to pick up the beat and get more anthemic and gorgeous! The vocals also come to a halt turning the song into an instrumental the rest of the way. At first this might sound off putting considering the length of the song, but I promise you this is one of the best. Halfway in it seems to fade out, before slowly fading back in again. It takes a while but the song ends with the last 4 minutes or so being a spacey sound. It is said this is a hidden track, but I don't hear a real track. I just hear ambient spacey noises. I honestly wish they wouldn't have wasted all that time, but some will think its really artistic while many will call it annoying and pretentious to end the album this way. I think the first 5 minutes make up for the last part of the song. I do think if there were a movie based on the album that the spacey ending would fit well, but not for casual listeners. 10/10 strictly for the first part of the song.
So I may sound biased since I gave most of the songs on the album a perfect score, but I'm confident that this is one of the best albums released in the past 10 years. Some are saying this is Arcade Fires "OK Computer"/"Kid A". I somewhat agree. I might get a lot of disagreements for what I'm about to say, but I think this was much better than both of those Radiohead albums that seem to be brought up whenever an artist experiments nowadays. This is Arcade Fires "REFLEKTOR". This album has so many textures and layers that one will discover with each repeated listen. I already keep discovering new things in the songs I didn't hear before. As many have stated, the album does have a more dance-y feel to it. It works really well though. If there was any doubt that Arcade could surpass their "Suburbs" or "Funeral" album, this is the answer. This album is almost too good. This really is epic. At over 70 minutes long, you really have to get settled in to really enjoy the album, but its worth it. I won't be surprised if this album sweeps the next Grammy award season. This will be analyzed by critics for years as one of the milestone albums of the 2010s decade of music. Do yourself a favor and get this album if you like good music.
P.S. For those of you who didn't know, there is a hidden track in the beginning of the album. Rewind past the beginning of track 1 and you will be treated to a 10 minute treat that I'm sure many of you will enjoy.
on October 29, 2013
Writing a review for Arcade Fire's latest has been a daunting task; on one hand you have the Greek myth of Orpheus that much of the lyrical content in Reflektor centers around and very quickly an album review becomes an undergraduate lesson in Greek mythology and its underlying influence on Western culture. On the other? The expansive and impressive array of instruments, recording techniques, vocal harmonies, and blissful bombardment of melodic tone that pervades throughout the entire album. The end result is Reflektor, the fourth studio album by Montreal based Arcade Fire that transcends genre and medium; an amalgamation of music and literature that enjoyably educates the senses whilst providing relaxation and reflection. Simply put, one of the best albums I've ever heard.
Before Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and before Romeo and Juliet, there was Orpheus and Eurydice. Depending on publisher, website, or cigarette smoking historian, the stories of Orpheus can differ greatly. For the purpose of eventually wanting to talk about a music album an extremely short abridged version will have to suffice. Orpheus himself is credited in ancient Greek as being one of the most legendary musicians and poets, his lyre and voice capable of creating such beautiful sound and prose that animals, men, and gods themselves would become charmed and forego anything else save the sound of the lyre. Numerous tales exist of Orpheus using his lyre to escape danger, including when traveling by the island home to the sirens sisters of Iliad fame. Whereas Odysseus used wax to drown the sirens sound, Orpheus himself overcame them and saved the ship by providing a more enticing tune. Enter Eurydice, daughter of Appolo and wood nymph. The two are married and during the wedding day feast Eurydice is bitten by a viper and quickly dies. This begins the journey of Orpheus to the underworld to plead his case to Hades for Eurydice's return. An epic journey ensues with Orpheus charming Cerebrus (hellhound, gate guardian), and striking a deal with Hades to return to the upper realm with Eurydice, with one condition: Orpheus must walk in front of Eurydice the whole way and is not allowed to look back until reaching the upper realm. The album cover for Reflektor is exactly this: Eurydice walking behind Orpheus with her arms around him amid their way back to the upper realm (See I'm really going somewhere with this).
Tragically, near the end of the journey Orpheus doubts Eurydice's presence and begins to wonder whether she is merely an apparition or that perhaps Hades has deceived him. Doubting when crossing the portal, Orpheus tempts fate and turns around to look upon his face, it is indeed Eurydice but since she has not crossed the threshold she disappears and returns to the underworld. The rest of the story is history as they say, Orpheus becomes a raging alcoholic (not really) and spurns the gods the rest of his day. "Porno" and "Afterlife" capture this loss in an incredible way. Why is it the greatest love story? Because the two don't end up together. Why should you care about this? Trust me, it will help you in deciphering latter half of Reflektor.
Reflektor starts strong, the title track being a lengthy 7 minute jaunt that reverberates in true Arcade Fire fashion, layered lo-fi distortion in and out of an ever advancing drum beat accompanied by various forms of percussion, horn, piano, and alternating vocals from Win Butler and Régine Chassagne (Régine's elegantly in French). There is a very distinct and danceable foundation established in "Reflektor" that comes and goes all throughout the album. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame co-produced the album along with Markus Dravis and influence by the former is noticeable: These are some of Arcade Fire's grooviest and collectively lengthiest tracks. "Flashbulb Eyes," the albums shortest and perhaps most lyrically straightforward track is a mix of rock reggae with a dash of rumba. In an interview with Rolling Stone earlier in the year Win Butler stated that traveling to Haiti had a strong influence on the album's sound and I find it rather enjoyable. The Haitian influence is strongest throughout the first side of the album, but rock fans don't lose faith, there's enough to go around."Normal Person" quickly descends from a piano rag ballad to a guitar driven guitar, drum, and on careful listen one can even hear bongos. "Here Comes The Night Time" is a compelling introspective about the men and women traversing the world selling religion. Arcade Fire has never been shy about alternating instruments and inserting electronic "noise" or horn in the most appropriate places. These aren't looping beats or guitar riffs however, but planned instrumental nuances that add a subtle layer of depth that is appreciated. Whether living room acoustics or headphones, this album is seriously busy.
Around "Awful Sound" is when our Greek education comes into play as the remainder of Reflektor plays out like the Orpheus saga. Orpheus sings to Eurydice in "Awful Sound" and Eurydice returns the favor in the next track, "It's Never Over." The two tracks in quick succession are more than satisfactory and leagues beyond anything the writing in anything being released in movie theaters. Those music fans who might find phobia at the thought of a sad love story driving an album album take solace in the opinion that musically the back half of Reflektor is just as strong if not better than the first half of the album. There is still plenty of rock and indie soundscapes to be had and nothing comes across contrived or melodramatic.
Since I've quite literally spoiled the story for you I'll leave you to your own devices to lyrically interpret the remainder of the album's themes and soundscapes. I just hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Every generation has iconic bands and musicians and if Arcade Fire hasn't already been identified at the forefront of this current generation then this magnum opus should help them reach that plateau. Find more reviews at [...]
on December 7, 2013
I must start by saying I'm a huge Arcade Fire fan. Love every album up to now, so was awaiting this release with just a bit of anticipation. Having now listen to it my reaction is "well, what was that all about and could I have been doing something else instead". Arcade Fire are clearly looking to mix their sound up and this is a very different album, but in doing so have produced a pretty boring piece of music. While trying to stretch them selves, it just feels like they couldn't quite push themselves enough or didn't fully embrace it, so it all sounds a bit halfhearted. Still a fan, but can't see myself putting this one on high rotation.
on November 2, 2013
Funeral grabbed me right away, with the first wobbly sounding lead guitar melody on Neighborhood #1. Neon Bible wasn't quite so immediate; it was Intervention that won me over, though I still consider this the most uneven of their four releases. The Suburbs, which has been essential listening for my wife and I since its release, took quite a few listens to sink in, and then become addictive. The two initially released songs - The Suburbs, and Month of May - really didn't impress until they were set into the context of the full album. It remains a masterpiece.
And now we have the massive, dense, fascinating Reflektor. Similarities with The Suburbs - not so much in the music, but in the need to listen in full, quite a few times, for it all to sink in, register, make sense and embed itself into your mind - are striking. The initial release - the "hit" - Reflektor - really disappointed me a bit on first listen. But then the full album came out, it could be absorbed in full.....first listen of the full release gave me the impression of volume, density, and dance music. Where was the Arcade Fire of the first three releases?
Then familiarity and acceptance set in, the melodies emerged, the brilliantly played and spaced instruments, perfectly fitted and harmonized vocals. Where the first few listens indicated a lack of a "Wake Up", "Intervention", "Ready to Start" or "Sprawl II", subsequent listens made the songs pop, become distinct, and for the most part, exciting and memorable. I found myself going to sleep with snippets of the songs in my head.
I like the generally different "feel" of the two discs - the high energy dance of disc 1, the more familiar, textured, complex atmosphere of disc 2 - but of course there are exceptions in both cases. To me, the masterpieces are found on disc 2, but I am sure with time it will flip, change again, and like with The Suburbs, I will find strength in all of the songs, depending upon my mood. But, my, isn't "It's Never Over" a miracle of songwriting!
on November 2, 2013
I own a vintage Pioneer silver era stereo, the SX-780. I have a pair of bookshelf speakers that I built myself using high quality drivers from Part Express. They outperform most anything that can be bought for under $1,200 here at Amazon. Sometimes, I employ a powered sub-woofer when listening to my collection of music CDs and iTUNES rips, and sometimes I don't. For this CD I am not, but I highly recommend one unless you have big, full-range speakers; some of the tracks on this CD go down pretty low.
I cannot overstate how important it is on how to set up your speakers the proper way when listening to 2 channel stereo music, whether it's on CD or vinyl or downloads. I don't care what kind of speakers you have, high end or consumer grade, if you don't have a big enough listening area where you can set up your speakers properly, you will be missing out on a lot of the sonic joy that most great recordings offer.
I have a fairly large garage that I converted into a man-cave complete with a great music listening area. In this listening area, I have my speakers set up very carefully with regard to maximizing stereo separation, imaging, and depth of the sound field. In other words, I did not have to compromise on where I placed my speakers and the listening position like before inside my house.
I have my pair of speakers separated several feet away from the back wall and 12 feet apart from each other (this distance is probably the single most important thing I can recommend when setting up a stereo listening area). They sit on stands and the tweeters are at ear level. My listening position is another 12 feet away from either speaker creating an equilateral triangle. Both speakers are also several feet way from their adjacent side walls. I have both speakers firing directly at the listening position (this is called toe-in and is dependent on what type of speakers you have.) THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO MUSIC IN STEREO. I have enough things on the walls to break up reflections; and I have a rug that covers the cement floor between me and the speakers, again to break up reflections. For the most part, this listening environment is pretty great -- way better than an office or small bedroom where the distance between speakers is pathetically small, and better than most living rooms where the space between speakers is only 6 feet or so.
I like to listen to music pretty loud and at night in near total darkness. The darkness helps tremendously in order to get to that hypnotic state where you become one with the music. If it's a day after some heavy stress, I'll drink a cold one - or two - to help me relax.
(I checked out the CD REFLECTOR at my local library. I'll probably buy it here later on for Christmas as a stocking-stuffer.)
NOW FOR THE REVIEW of THE CD, YES THE CD, OF REFLECTOR:
There are actually 2 CDs containing a total of 13 tracks, 7 and 6 respectively.
After one full listen from beginning to end of BOTH CDs, all I can say is WOW! Arcade Fire have outdone themselves on REFLECKTOR. What a journey! It's a pity that I had to get up to change CDs, because it kinda broke the mood, or the TRANCE that I was in. The sound is big, but not loud. It's full, but not too overblown. Is it a victim of LOUDNESS and COMPRESSION? Maybe. Maybe not. But its fullness and bombast are used to full effect, creating a wall of sound that will suck you in. There are plenty of attacks where the sound level reaches its highest point, and of course, there are some quiet passages, too. It felt great. I could hear each of the different sounds easily in the mix, whether its vocals or drums or the synth flourishes splashed throughout each track. In fact, both vocals, Win's and his wife's, were clearly arranged right to left when they were singing together. As for the depth of the sound field, it was as much right in your face rather than laid back. Of course, the whole album is not some laid-back affair like a Steely Dan album. It's more like U2's sound from the '90s. Big and Bold, but bigger and bolder. I really liked it. It felt like I was wrapped in sound and just taken for a ride. I'm not too sure, and maybe someone could chime in here, but Arcade Fire may have broken some new ground regarding sound mixing with their use of effects. They have really come up with some unique, great sounding stuff here. All in all, just a wonderful sounding CD, and I hope Arcade Fire continue making great music.