I thought I found a way to enter
It’s just a reflektor
I thought I found the connector
It’s just a reflektor
This is Arcade Fire’s latest album and it’s by far both their most ambitious and their most indulgent. When the album works, it’s really, really great, as in the thumping title track or the retro call-and-response bits of Joan of Arc or the haunting Here Comes the Night Time. And the album works, I’d say, quite a bit more than it doesn’t. But it’s frustrating how close this album comes to being genuinely great; all it needs is a little less indulgence and a little tightening. It’s a double album, at over eighty minutes, but it doesn’t need to be. Here Comes the Night Time is split into two tracks, one on the first disc and another on the second; the second is unnecessary and together the two add up to nearly ten minutes. Then there’s a ten minute sound collage of reversed samples from the album hidden in the pre-gap of disc one (which, if you know it’s there and play it at the beginning of the album, pushes the listening experience of the album up to over ninety minutes). And the ambient hidden track at the end of Super Symmetry, quite a good album closer, but totally undone by more than five minutes of sighing synthesizers at the end of the track. The album is a lot of fun, but it’s a great example of an artwork hampered by its overweening ambition. It’s clear that Arcade Fire wanted to make their best album yet with this and that’s admirable, but most bands should take the moment their album expands into a double album as a serious red-flag. Arcade Fire certainly should have. I’m imagining the tighter sixty-five (or so) minute version of this album and I think it would be a masterpiece. As it is, we’ve got a sprawling, interesting, frustratingly flawed, occasionally tedious album. I mean, from Arcade Fire, I’ll take it, but this isn’t the grand statement I think we all, band included, wanted it to be. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – album is filled with greatness, but it’s frustratingly self-indulgent and painfully long; it’s a flawed epic, but still a mostly thrilling experience. 3 ½ stars.