At a Toronto recording studio to preview the forthcoming double album from Montreal maximalists Arcade Fire, a record-label publicist told a dozen hardcore listeners that Reflektor was a “giant piece of art.”
It wasn’t jive. The hulking thing of grooves, sonic heroics, and sympathy for the Rolling Stones’ congas starts with the by now well-known, danceable title track and frontman Win Butler’s eureka moment: “I thought I’d found the connector.”
His musical discoveries were facilitated by co-producer James (LCD Soundsystem) Murphy, who may have suggested the filthy bass line and post-disco of the second track, We Exist. The tricky Here Comes the Night Time suggests a visit to Port-au-Prince by Sam Roberts. You Already Know laughs like the Clash.
Elsewhere, dub reggae is an influence, and generally, the material throws its weight around like a 400-pound Bowie. Lyrically, Butler is concerned with an afterlife – “I think I saw what happens next” and “If this is heaven,” I need something more” – but Reflektor is a brilliant follow-up to Grammy-winner The Suburbs. It is Arcade Fire’s dance with the devil. It is life after life.