Let it be known: I don’t gush about every Canadian band that features more than five members and solely because I have a love-hate romance with what’s considered indie in Canada. I also stick to a lot of bands that would prefer to watch conformity be on the verge of death while they do things on their own DIY terms (No Joy, METZ, Purity Ring, Greys). That being said, Arcade Fire are as weird as French Canadian-weird gets but they are francophone icons.
When a shitty radio rip of their new single “Reflektor” made its way around, it was hard not to think that the band must have been on hard drugs when they first wrote it. Maybe not molly or lean, but cocaine? There’s a chance. Seeing a band go from writing a Boss-influenced rock beast with The Suburbs and then churning out a sophisticated blast of disco (that’s 100 per cent 2013) is movie-like. Sure, Arcade Fire take pride in making grand statements and crafting unusual songs that build transcendent records, but you’d be hard-pressed to see Drake pull off his own Yeezus instead of singing about his feelings, his city, and well.. his feelings. Those transformations are a rare occurrence and even if Rick Rubin somehow finds a way to sloth over to a couch while OD-ing on good vibrations.
But Saturday Night Live proved that they can be true because while Arcade Fire may not buy from a sketchy dealer who makes sales on his 10-speed behind Starbucks, they do have talent. “Reflektor”, “Afterlife”, and the three songs they debuted in their corporate America NBC special (“Here Comes The Night Time”, “We Exist”, “Normal Person”) are weighty tracks that are too much to take in on a first listen between tweets and selfies. Mostly because every riff, drum snap, and swoon from Win Butler is executed with precision – and in the case of the seven-piece – it’s likely because of their need to be perfectionists. Each new song sounds like it was randomly pulled from a record shop in Williamsburg and even begs to ask the question: “Are Arcade Fire experimenting or did they re-carve different realms of rock-based music to piece together the ultimate reminder of when the mainstream was cool?”.
Most of North America knows more “Mercy” than they do French so it’s a question that will likely be overlooked. As authentic as they may be, Arcade Fire are still that weird band from Montreal that just barely grabbed a Grammy. Will their new record garner more respect? There’s a chance it will, and there’s a chance it won’t. But with the new effort being readied, it’s hard to deny their ability to be eclectic when everyone just wants to join the Twerk Team.
Watch Arcade Fire’s Here Comes The Night Time special below; Reflektor is is out Oct. 29th via Merge