Arcade Fire

Reflektor (Merge)

Phases and Stages

Arcade Fire

Reflektor (Merge)

Promoted with a graffiti campaign, TV special, costumed secret shows, and enough advertising to blanket the Web, Arcade Fire sold the world on a defining album for our hyper-connected times, a pop-culture touchstone that draws a line in the sand between us and them. To quote Win Butler on the title track, "It was just a reflector." The Montreal sextet's double-disc fourth album sprawls an indulgent 85-minute opus that expands the band's scope in all directions at once. With co-producer James Murphy doing for New York what Brian Eno took from Berlin, Reflektor expands on the darker grooves of 2011's Album of the Year, The Suburbs, except with Caribbean rhythms. It works masterfully on the first disc, Vol. 1: the dub-noir of "Flashbulb Eyes," thrilling Carnival rush of "Here Comes the Night Time," and the transcendental disco of "Reflektor," complete with a David Bowie cameo. Vol. 2 lacks the same clarity and continuity. As a whole, there are throwaway tracks ("Porno") and overstayed welcomes (ambiguous anthem "We Exist"), Butler playing roulette with themes: the pains of indie rock ("Normal Person"), star-crossed Greek mythology ("Awful Sound [Oh Eurydice]," "It's Never Over [Oh Orpheus]"), and existential despair ("Afterlife"). Ultimately, Reflektor's about everything and nothing, leaving the listener awkwardly dancing in the dark, together alone, with no promise of a better tomorrow.


The 2021-2022 Austin Music Awards Music Poll is underway. Vote now for your favorite bands, venues, and music until January 31.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Arcade Fire
ACL Live Shots
Arcade Fire

Melanie Haupt, Sept. 23, 2011

Live Shots
Arcade Fire, Explosions in the Sky

Austin Powell, May 6, 2011

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Austin Powell
Space and Distance: A Joint Interview With Balmorhea and Explosions in the Sky
Space and Distance: A Joint Interview With Balmorhea and Explosions in the Sky
How Austin’s landmark instrumental outfits soundtrack the state of Texas

Dec. 10, 2021

Aaron Frazer’s MCU of Soul
Aaron Frazer’s MCU of Soul
The Indications’ drummer and soul crooner introduces himself at ACL

Oct. 7, 2021


Arcade Fire

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle