Sometimes it pays to be obvious.
Yes, you can be that guy who turns up to a fancy-dress party wearing an Amy Winehouse wig and swear blind you’ve turned up as High Barnet Underground station, but NO, the best way to go in most circumstances is blatant. You don’t get the dream job by talking in cryptic crossword clues. Unless you’re a cryptic crossword compiler. And don’t tell me that anyone genuinely completes those things, it’s an elaborate hoax.
Any end-of-year list absent of Arcade Fire would be as useless as a Pot Noodle on Masterchef. Yes, it’s obvious, no, I don’t apologise.
Having made ‘The Suburbs’, a singles compilation album in all but name, Arcade Fire appear to have spent years standing outside a bedroom refusing to unlock the door until disco and prog had finished fucking really hard. It’s all in the manual we handed you, disco, just take it like the slapper you are. The ‘Reflektor’ album didn’t so much take people by surprise so much as take them hostage. Was this deliberate space clearing by a band wanting to refresh their own sense of independence and artistry? Memo: the lead single has 6.58 million views on YouTube, good luck with feeling more pure at heart.
What a lead single, mind you. Clocking in at 7 minutes 42 seconds, a full forty seconds shorter than Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors”, yesterday’s featured track. CONSIDER THAT, folks. ‘Reflektor’ makes no amount of sense, which is perhaps the best trump card it holds. Anglo-French verses at one pace and the hypnotic chorus taken from somewhere else entirely, all bounding along with big-band-does-disco tootling along in the background. (My favourite part perhaps being the breakdown leading up to the third minute, at which point some songs are about to finish, while this one goes into audio metaphor, time signature wig-outs and David Bowie’s speak-singing. Joyous.)
If the single is too bonkers for you, then has the album got a treat in store. Whether the hectares of column inches about Arcade Fire – (this single! the formal dress to gig invitations! David Bowie!) – will still be around next year is a point yet to focus in my mind. I realise frazzled PR-types spent most of this year insta-reacting to albums as quickly as possible before BuzzFeed nobbles another industry, it’s just next year might see them having to do actual work if ‘Reflektor’ turns out to be the anti-Bowie by not spawning half-a-dozen unexpected/unwanted singles. God speed single-edit remix producers, we’re counting on you.