Thought you would bring me to the resurrektor...
September 9, 2013 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Arcade Fire are back with a groovy single, Reflektor, accompanied by an amazing interactive experience.

They were known to experiment with the possibilities of the web earlier on The Wilderness Downtown and Neon Bible.

James Murphy is reported to have worked extensively and produced this album, and this track features guest vocals by David Bowie. The song, and reportedly the album, are heavily influenced by disco and African polyrhythms.

They are back with their fourth full LP, also called, "Reflektor". They've tackled themes revolving around family, death, Orwellian paranoia, social inequality, and adult insecurities and suburban sprawls in their first three records, and won their first best album Grammy for the third one (which kicked this off).

Arcade Fire previously on mefi.
posted by mysticreferee (58 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
I like African polyrhythms.
posted by box at 1:55 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"On September 4, 2013, the band released a teaser trailer for the album which further promoted "9pm 9/9 (9:30 Newfoundland)"...

This pleases my Canadian heart so very much.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2013 [21 favorites]


Album art has been released, showing a marble sculpture by Auguste Rodin, based on a story from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Also confirmed to appear on the SNL premiere with Tina Fey.
posted by mysticreferee at 2:00 PM on September 9, 2013


I know I am late to the Arcade Fire party, but their music pleases my non-Canadian heart.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:06 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yep that sounds like an Arcade Fire song.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:07 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The site thingy was pretty cool, but the interactivity really spirals off in the last part of the video. Sort of like they were "See what I can do? Whaddya mean deadline?"
posted by Samizdata at 2:07 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


2bucksplus: "Yep that sounds like an Arcade Fire song."

See, I definitely feel the same way -- it's definitely the same group but I really like this in ways that I haven't (despite probably looking from a demographer's perspective as "Arcade Fan bait") liked Arcade Fire this much before. I'd probably have to listen to their earlier stuff more to figure out why this clicks for me more than their early stuff but if anybody else feels the same way, I wouldn't mind hearing why.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:11 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like them, and this isn't meant as criticism, but I know I'm going to be having nightmares starring those giant paper maiche heads.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:16 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did they ever leave?
posted by Flashman at 2:17 PM on September 9, 2013


Well, they were pretty quiet in 2011 and '12, in regards of studio releases, if their discography on Wikipedia is accurate. There were only 3 singles in 2011, and they only released two songs last year, both from The Hunger Games.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:22 PM on September 9, 2013


You had me at James Fucking Epic Murphy.
posted by maudlin at 2:22 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is going to sound weird but aside from loving the song, the video is just so...Quebec that it pleases me.
posted by Kitteh at 2:28 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's sounding to my ears like !!! or The Rapture. Dance-punk is back, yall.
posted by naju at 2:33 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It doesn't sound anything like an Arcade Fire song to me. It sounds more like a remix of an Arcade Fire song. They're singing their usual tunes but the music is all wrong.

When I was younger I loved music videos but now I can't watch them. Knowing what the musicians look like and how bad their taste and ideas are/how little control they have over bad ideas makes it hard to listen to the songs thereafter. My heart was broken when I found out Florence Welch does cheesy dance routines like Lady Gaga.
posted by bleep at 2:38 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


And by that I mean I don't like any of this. Please don't sell out or jump the shark, Arcade Fire, even though I know it's inevitable.
posted by bleep at 2:39 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm a pretty huge Arcade Fire fan and this song just feels... lazy? This whole nu-disco thing is getting out of hand.

bleep is right, it feels like a re-mix of a proper AF song. Or like a Sade b-side. Or Girl Talk mixing AF and a late 70s disco queen.

Whatever, I'm old and never got LCD Soundsystem.
posted by lattiboy at 2:46 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it's instantly in the top 10 Arcade Fire songs. But that's just me. And I mostly didn't care for The Suburbs ("Sprawl II" being the magnificent exception). This is kind of in line with uptempo inspired AF, like "No Cars Go", building to a hugely layered, swirling, overwhelming climax. My favorite thing that they do, when they care to do it.
posted by naju at 2:48 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


After another listen this feels like talented people doing karaoke at a hip bar where nobody is having fun.

I really hope this doesn't signal AF getting all detached and cool. I love that so many of their songs feel like they're actively killing and/or birthing them when being performed.
posted by lattiboy at 2:52 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


maudlin: You had me at James Fucking Epic Murphy.

And adding African polyrhythm made my heart flutter, though congas doesn't immediately mean "African polyrhythm."
How is it possible to get goosebumps off a conga section? Who knows. But it's happened here. Even in the song's 40 second trailer hairs stood up to the sound of lightly tapped drums. What was the last record to use these tapping creatures so effectively? The Rolling Stones' 'Sympathy For The Devil'? Yeah, we'll go with that.
Really? 1968? Absolutely nothing amazing from the congos in 45 years? So in my search for a proper modern review of congos, I came across this 8 page PDF on Conga Drum History, which highlights how critical the tumbadora (the Spanish name for the drum, used to separate the drum from the Carnival conga rhythm) is in Latin American music.

Here's a piece from NPR about conga/timbal duos, generally in Afro-Cuban music, but it cites the time "Santana famously made 500,000 people sway their hips at Woodstock." (1969) Sadly, there aren't any articles or lists singing the praise of the conga that I could find, but I did see that the actor John Stamos played congas with Willie Nelson at Outside Lands last month. So, um, that's something.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:56 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]




I mostly didn't care for The Suburbs ("Sprawl II" being the magnificent exception)

This. The album struck me as kind-of uninspired rock – I still haven't gotten through the entire thing, though I love Neon Bible and Funeral. The one exception was Sprawl II, which was glorious in its electronic, disco-y glory. My friends and I all pretty much heard that and hoped that they'd be smart enough to realize the best new thing they'd made and keep doing it. This sounds like that.

Also, LCD Soundsystem is a great complement to them, because the best LCD Soundsystem songs are the ones that're vulnerable and angsty enough to sound like Arcade Fire tones.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:59 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the longest time, I was cynical about James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem, and the whole DFA enterprise, probably because of my own curmudgeonly dislike of things that are high on the trend-o-meter. But I've come to think of them as having perhaps the best and most distinctive "house sound" of any label currently operating. Especially given the long and painful stretch of zero-effort "bloghouse" that's democratized laptop-based dance music since 2007, t's hard for me to get too harsh on DFA's liquid grooves built on real instruments, with arrangements that know how to go long and deep, adding and subtracting and building and breaking down and not just A/Bing through the same two or three tired steps. Sure, they owe their entire stylebook to Ze Records and Arthur Russell and Peter Gordon and Liquid Liquid and ESG and others from the NYC downtown scene. But, even if the Talking Heads/Eno parallels are strongly indicated, I rather like hearing Arcade Fire pushed through the sweaty DFA dance machine. I look forward to hearing this at 3AM warehouse parties throughout the autumn months.
posted by mykescipark at 2:59 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


A personal poll of several U2 fans finds 100% of them want to know what Joshua Tree Bono covered in shards from the Popmart lemon is doing in an Arcade Fire video.
posted by jocelmeow at 3:10 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently made with Google's Data Arts team, including Aaron Koblin. Who also did a lot of the work on the Wilderness Downtown interactive.
posted by Nelson at 3:29 PM on September 9, 2013


I loved every part of The Suburbs. Surprising to hear it described as uninspired as it had very clear themes and their voices and sounds are so expressive.
posted by bleep at 3:39 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I loved the last two albums and played them to death but this just leaves me a little cold. I kept waiting for the actual song to kick in until I realized that was the song and not just a really long intro.
posted by octothorpe at 3:45 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah, somehow I missed the About page with credits. Primary credit is to Vincent Morisset of Studio AATOAA, then Aaron Kobler and the Google Creative Lab, then a big group of other people.

The interactive video is sort of fun. I like the UI of holding a phone up facing the screen, a bit like the kids-these-days do at concerts instead of holding up lighters. And they do some clever things with the two screen UI I won't spoil here. Except at some point my iPhone was being urged to BREAK FREE and Mobile Safari promptly crashed. The only escape for software is death.
posted by Nelson at 3:48 PM on September 9, 2013


I always assumed that kind of dulling their sound down for The Suburbs was part of the concept of the album.
posted by mannequito at 3:52 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's sounding to my ears like !!! or The Rapture.

This, exactly! MY reaction, though, was "Huh, this sounds like !!!... but I like it."

I just never could get into them. Chks, man.
posted by psoas at 3:55 PM on September 9, 2013


"I'd probably have to listen to their earlier stuff more to figure out why this clicks for me more than their early stuff but if anybody else feels the same way, I wouldn't mind hearing why."

More Talking Heads, less U2.
posted by klangklangston at 4:07 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Nelson: "Ah, somehow I missed the About page with credits. Primary credit is to Vincent Morisset of Studio AATOAA, then Aaron Kobler and the Google Creative Lab, then a big group of other people.

The interactive video is sort of fun. I like the UI of holding a phone up facing the screen, a bit like the kids-these-days do at concerts instead of holding up lighters. And they do some clever things with the two screen UI I won't spoil here. Except at some point my iPhone was being urged to BREAK FREE and Mobile Safari promptly crashed. The only escape for software is death.
"

If I had had a phone that would do such things...
posted by Samizdata at 4:16 PM on September 9, 2013


This is where I pop in to complain that it requires WebGL and won't run on my computer, right?

... yup.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:27 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


God but that video is gorgeous. The song is okay, though it suffers from the same hollow climactic development that's always kept me from enjoying Arcade Fire. It's like their attempts at ramping up tension include all of the right elements but for the one that elicits my emotional involvement.
posted by invitapriore at 4:27 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Indeed, that is one masterpiece of a music video.
posted by oulipian at 5:02 PM on September 9, 2013


God but that video is gorgeous. The song is okay, though it suffers from the same hollow climactic development that's always kept me from enjoying Arcade Fire. It's like their attempts at ramping up tension include all of the right elements but for the one that elicits my emotional involvement.

Huh. Ready to Start hits that button for me so hard that just reading "Arcade Fire" will get it stuck in my head all day. I like this, but few songs will ever grab me and hold me like that one does.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:07 PM on September 9, 2013


I really liked the new single, and I've only sort of been able to get into them before. (I had to admire The Suburbs for supposedly being a diss about the Woodlands even if I didn't find it that engaging. But if it's about the Woodlands, that's no surprise.)
posted by immlass at 5:10 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer: "God but that video is gorgeous. The song is okay, though it suffers from the same hollow climactic development that's always kept me from enjoying Arcade Fire. It's like their attempts at ramping up tension include all of the right elements but for the one that elicits my emotional involvement.

Huh. Ready to Start hits that button for me so hard that just reading "Arcade Fire" will get it stuck in my head all day. I like this, but few songs will ever grab me and hold me like that one does.
"

Yeah, I suspect that the musical criterion of "what gets you going" is probably even more subjective than most matters of musical preference. That tune didn't really do much for me either, but on the other hand if I were in the car with my buddy who loves Arcade Fire and he were rocking out to it, I suspect I'd have a hard time not feeling it too. I kind of wonder if all of the audience shots in that video aren't something of a hint that that kind of communal vibe is what they shoot for with their music.
posted by invitapriore at 5:18 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


My thing with Arcade Fire is that I really really like the band, and I love that they keep changing their sound, and this song is great and I'm sure I'll like the album, yet I still feel that nothing has even approached Funeral out of everything else they've done. What a ridiculously high bar to set with your first album! There are very few debut albums - not a large number of albums period - that have hit me that hard in the past decade.

What I want more than anything after hearing this, though, is for James Murphy to produce a full album for Bowie. This is Happening is basically Berlin-era Bowie and Iggy sans Bowie and Iggy, it would be a great fit.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:03 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh, so that is what James Murphy has been up to.
posted by tylermoody at 6:12 PM on September 9, 2013


Wow, I liked everything about this much more than I thought I would. Funeral was amazing, but Neon Bible left me cold and I never really got into The Suburbs. This, though - damn. I am a huge fan of anything James Murphy-related, though, so that may have something to do with it.
posted by malthas at 6:31 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nah - the nu-disco beat was fine when it was on Sprawl II. But this just sounds like someone got Daft Punk in my peanut butter one too many times.
posted by Ber at 6:35 PM on September 9, 2013


The video is very cool, the interactivity of the teaser site is great but I was a little annoyed that I had to hear the song again.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:57 PM on September 9, 2013


The one exception was Sprawl II, which was glorious in its electronic, disco-y glory.

My housemate mixed that song (along with several other tracks in Arcade Fire's discography.) He's got quite a gift for finding interesting sound stylings, and making them happen in the studio. He'll be quite tickled that you singled that song out, I think.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:51 PM on September 9, 2013


The song [...] suffers from the same hollow climactic development that's always kept me from enjoying Arcade Fire. It's like their attempts at ramping up tension include all of the right elements but for the one that elicits my emotional involvement.

Holy frijole, I get this with like 99% of all music made in the last decade.
posted by Quilford at 12:52 AM on September 10, 2013


Yeah, I'm a pretty huge Arcade Fire fan and this song just feels... lazy? This whole nu-disco thing is getting out of hand.

I'm actually a fan of nu-disco(and old disco... and interesting dance-ish music in general), but i completely agree.

I like arcade fire too, some of the older stuff at least. I just... don't get this. It's like they ran out of ideas. The whole song is a 7 minute loop of basically the same lyrics looped over a really generic vaguely dance punk watered down !!! but more rinsed out backing track.

It sounds not like a mashup, but like if you actually made tea with tracks from a few bands like that. fuck, it even has the horns a lot of !!! tracks did. But mixed with some chill wave sensibilities and some other seasoning from the past couple of years. It's like they've been listening to whats going on and just blandified it.

What i instantly thought was "it sounds like some big company wanted a song that sounded a specific way in their commercial, and hired some studio musicians to make a spec track that "sounded indie". It's like what this is to modern EDM or something. A bit of electro, a bit of everything else, etc.

I guess i just wasted a lot of words to say it's just really generic and uninspiring sounding. It's like ordering steak and eggs at another roadside diner when you're traveling and hungover. You wanted it, and it's not unsatisfying... but it's also a bit bland and doesn't really bring anything new or inspiring to the table.

Maybe i'm just becoming a bit of a jaded asshole about music though. The last song to tickle any kind of "ohh that's cool, i wanna listen to that again" twinge in me that was in this genre or style was false thing by new build.
posted by emptythought at 2:48 AM on September 10, 2013


i'm the only person i know who didn't like Neon Bible at all. Funeral's still the high-water mark for me, although The Suburbs had its charms. I'm cagey about this new sound and will withhold judgment for now.
posted by echocollate at 6:26 AM on September 10, 2013


I'm usually not immediately caught by any song on first listening, so I tried this one twice, and now I've listened to it at least a half dozen times. It's definitely a step in the same direction they started on with The Suburbs, playing with 80's/90's pop tropes and continuing the lyrical theme of internet isolation. But it seems more dynamic than The Suburbs, which just sorta felt like a still pool, to me.

I still pine for the lushness of Funeral, but I know that won't be coming back. I'm digging this.
posted by sutt at 6:46 AM on September 10, 2013


It's linked on the video pages, but wanted to call out the source code is on GitHub. Includes a Sandbox for playing with WebGL post-processing effects.
posted by Nelson at 10:18 AM on September 10, 2013


Loved Funeral, thought Neon Bible was generally all right ("My Body Is A Cage" is as good as anything they've done), and went bonkers for The Suburbs. The latter hit all of my "yes, yes, this is truth I am listening to truth" art buttons. I agree that "Sprawl II" is a remarkable piece of music, but it is "We Used To Wait" which still gets me choked up.

That's the thing about Arcade Fire - I almost always hear truth when they play.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:13 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I loved Funeral (the best non-hip-hop debut album in the last 20 years). They may never live up to that height again, and that's totally fine; few bands ever hit that kind of height at any point. I really like The Suburbs and like Neon Bible just fine. Loved them live. And I like LCD Soundsystem just fine, but this track has come up a few times on the radio and still leaves me feeling a little cold. Almost viscerally; their sound was so warm with the more organic instrumentation. I hope the new sound grows on me, because right now it feels like a misstep.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 3:42 PM on September 10, 2013


Purchased a copy of The Suburbs because of the very fine memories of Funeral and okay memories of Neon Bible, listened to it perhaps once & never again. This is a very exciting change in direction.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:37 PM on September 10, 2013


("My Body Is A Cage" is as good as anything they've done)

I forgot about that video - such a perfect thing.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:55 PM on September 10, 2013


Wasn't thrilled by this on first listen, but had the same response to The Suburbs on my first listen, and in fact a lot of songs/albums that have ended up being favourites. If nothing else I'm sure there will be at least a couple of songs on the LP that grab me in the way Joey Michaels.

And Shutterbun, next time you see you friend thank him on behalf of some random people from the internet for his contribution to that song, which is indeed fucking amazing.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:09 AM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's something about this song that has the same heartrate-changing quality I associate with Tricky's "Evolution Revolution Love." Love it.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:51 AM on September 11, 2013




And Shutterbun, next time you see you friend thank him on behalf of some random people from the internet for his contribution to that song, which is indeed fucking amazing.

I certainly will! He's mixed about a dozen or so of their songs over the years (along with a bunch of other great stuff) but will appreciate any and all kind words.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:36 PM on September 12, 2013




Been listening to this since it was released and it just keeps getting better. May be among my favorite songs by them.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:48 AM on September 16, 2013


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