Do you like rock ’n’ roll music? Cos I don’t know if I do…’ croons Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, like an anti-Elvis in the opening bars of ‘Normal Person’. But don’t let his words mislead you: Kid A this aint. While Reflektor is the Montreal outfit’s furthest venture onto the dancefloor, it remains a sprawling, confused myriad of exploration, with the band sounding possessed by the haunting qualities of dance music, rather than adopting the genre as its own – from the voodoo disco of the album’s title track to the New Order nuances of ‘It’s Never Over’.
The spectre of making a seminal album is upon them, however. Since they slashed through the flabby-bellied lad rock of the noughties with 2004’s morbidly theatrical Funeral, Arcade Fire have been redefining the limits of a guitar band. But almost ten years on, with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy as producer, the group is ready to dip its toes into a more sonically diverse soundscape.
If 2010’s The Suburbs captured lyrically the emotions of coming back home, Reflektor looks more expansively into our future, and there’s an portentous quality to Butler’s vocals. He performs from the perspective of both the parent and the child on many tracks (he and fellow singer Régine Chassagne became parents this year): ‘It seems like a big deal now, but you will get over, when you get older,’ he reassures on ‘It’s Never Over’, before aping an anxious adolescent on ‘Porno’ – ‘It makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me!’ Again, this is nothing new: ‘Children, wake up, before they turn the summer into dust,’ Win sang rapturously on Funeral. Only this time there’s a melancholy in his voice, something that tells us that we’re all already doomed.