Montreal rockers Arcade Fire are back with possibly their best album yet. Double album Reflektor is themed around the myth of doomed lovers Orpheus and Eurydice.
The new album appeared in its entirety on Youtube five days before its official release. It was set to the 1959 film Black Orpheus which retells the myth in the setting of the Rio de Janeiro carnival. The album fits it like a glove.
The Youtube pre-release is a bit like watching West Side Story, and just as cohesive as Bernstein and Sondheim’s writing in that musical. Arcade Fire return to well-worn themes of mortality, love, regret and the anxieties and frustrations of existence in the 21st century, with a bunch of standout tracks.
Anthemic opener Reflektor is a song about the limitations of the internet, for example. The first half hurtles past imbued with the spirit of carnival fun, inspired by spending time in Haiti where founder member Régine Chassagne’s parents emigrated from.
The second half is more introspective as the myth moves towards its tragic end, but the music is every bit as engaging. The album only flags during the one weak song, Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice).
Some critics seem to have been less interested in the music and more interested in the band’s personalities and publicity antics. But no doubt helped by production from LCD Soundsystem’s former front man James Murphy, the band’s sound is shimmering and transformed.
Out now on Sonovox records