The Magic Whip
Arcade Fire meets LCD Soundsystem – sparks have got to fly, right?
It's an intriguing combination: leading alt. rockers looking for a change of tack for their fourth album and a producer who's been kicking back after parking the coolest band on the planet. With James Murphy on the production knobs, that big angsty Arcade Fire sound could go dance, or new wave, or punk, or synth-pop – or indeed everything at once. Which is of course what Reflektor does.
The single was a warning, scraping eight minutes and taking in Italo house pianos, a post-punk groove, avant-garde guitar fills and a guest vocal from David Bowie. Clearly there were no plans to rein in the budget or the ambition. The album follows suit, spreading itself over two discs and the best part of an hour and a half, and playing its own game of spot the genre.
Obviously it's too long – not even this mixture of minds can sustain a dizzy creative pitch for the length of a football match – but in the sexy Billie Jean bass of We Exist, the raging garage punk of Normal Person and the rockabilly strut of You Already Know (featuring, bizarrely, samples of Jonathan Ross), there are great moments where the execution equals the idea.
Best of all is the death-disco of It's Never Over, where shimmering synths give way to New Order guitar and, in the dropouts, singer Win Butler reflects on life's trivialities ("seems so important now/But you'll get over"). As the heartbeat of the song fades, he sighs, "It's over too soon". You can't say that for the whole record, but it's worth the journey.