There were times when I convinced myself I did—″This dance-punk groove really digs in!” “French is a pretty language!” “Conga drums, man!”—but each sentiment of goodwill were only momentary delays in coming to terms with the fact that on their fourth album, one of my favorite bands has maybe shed all my favorite parts about them.
The way Funeral was such an elegant slap in the face to all the on-trend “The” bands of the day became one of its greatest assets in the mid-00s’ backdrop of everyone leveraging purposely unfashionable fashion and cool detachment as authenticity. With Neon Bible closely following Funeral‘s emotional scope and The Suburbs inverting the same feelings inward, I’ve always (perhaps unfairly) counted on Arcade Fire to go against whatever the trend of the day may be. Substance trumping style—that’s been their thing. But if “Reflektor” is indeed a fair indication of the new album’s direction, as rumors lead us to believe, they’ve succumbed to the current state of whatever it is people are talking about at the moment, fitting in nicely with the very-2013, Daft Punk-charged disco resurgence. With producer James Murphy’s signature punk twist on the disco era, “Reflektor” is, to an extent, mimicking the same trend that Funeral slyly riled against in 2004, when the mainstream music press was still holding onto The Rapture as their saving grace.
On the other hand, no one wants a band to be stagnant and Funeral #4 would earn Win & Co. knocks for not evolving enough over time. Change is good! But I can’t help but feel disappointed that their Big Change is the default move of seemingly every other band looking to switch things up after experiencing success in their niche. Add electronic flourishes, make a dance record. We’ve seen it time and time again, from Achtung Baby to Death Cab’s Codes and Keys. In the end—I clearly have my personal biases at heart when I say this—but I’m not so sure I want an Arcade Fire record that works in party situations. I want an Arcade Fire record that makes me sad thinking about the decisions I’ve made in life, but then makes me happy at the crescendos.
The good news is that there’s a double-album worth of material on the way to prove me wrong. Here’s hoping.
Follow Lauren Beck on Twitter @heylaurenbeck.