Share This Page

Arcade Fire's 'Reflektor' takes time to decipher

| Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, 8:08 p.m.

‘Reflektor'

Arcade Fire (Merge)

★★★½

There are records that you know, from the first time you hear them, you either love or loathe them. There are others that take years to decipher, digest, and diagram, and even then you're still not quite sure. Arcade Fire's fourth record “Reflektor” certainly falls into that arms-length category.

Funny, because this band has made classic, sure-fire, know-you-love-them classics including “Funeral” and the Grammy Award-winning “The Suburbs,” but they can be weird and off putting when they want to be, and “Reflektor” is full of those moments. It's long, challenging, often uncomfortable, artistically rewarding and tragic simultaneously, and sure to end up on top of a lot of best-of and worst-of album lists this year.

There are some great, touchstone moments from the disco-clashing title track to the Haitian-inspired rocker “Here Comes the Nighttime” to the confrontational “Normal People” to the dark, subdued “Afterlife.” Then there are things that don't go as well, including “It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)” and “Porno”that are admirable for their ambition but just miss the mark.

Regardless of how you feel — I'm starting to love it — you have to give Arcade Fire credit for their bravado on “Reflektor.” They could have turned in an easy collection of anthems but instead chose to challenge their audience. Challenge accepted.

‘No Blues'

Los Campesinos! (Wichita)

★★★★

Welsh sextet Los Campesinos! practically own this century's patent for heart-on-their-sleeves, teary-eyed, bloody-nosed pop songs about mangled love, misplaced emotions, and well, death. They've been a pleasure to behold over their first four full-lengths, all released since 2008, but really hit one out of the park on their new “No Blues,” their fifth.

The 10-track, 41-minute record is full of emotional hooks, clever lyrics, heartbreak, and laughter, and they even sound more musically mature this time around, mostly due to singer Gareth Campesinos' deepening voice. But their added seasoning doesn't mean their songs aren't still so catchy you could catch a party on fire, and they hammer you with quality over and over on the huge choruses of “What Death Leaves Behind”; the bloopy, spacey melodies of “Cemetery Gates”; the darkness meets cheerleader chants on “Avocado, Baby,” the album's highlight; and “The Time Before the Last Time,” that's buzzy, moody, and a little smeary.

Hard to believe this band has been so productive and still so good, and “No Blues” might be their best record to date.

‘Obscure Verses for the Multiverse'

Inquisition (Season of Mist)

★★★★

Two-headed black metal monster Inquisition are back with a fairly disturbing new record that's rife with cosmic chaos, alien origins, and Satan, quite naturally. Though Satan isn't exactly the horned devil guy, but instead some other destructive force that Inquisition channel perfectly.

On their sixth record and first for Season of Mist, the duo of Dagon and Incubus deliver weird, mesmerizing, pulverizing black metal complete with creaky vocals (think Immortal's Abbath) and devastating sounds on songs that claim titles you're going to have to Google in order to fully understand. Tracks such as “Force of the Floating Tomb,” “Spiritual Plasma Evocation,” and “Inversion of Ethereal White Stars” not only will bend your brain, they'll also treat you to some of the finest black metal released this year. Raise the chalice, indeed.

Brian Krasman is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.