Arcade Fire infuses Haitian influences into fourth studio album

Award-winning indie band uses guerilla marketing to promote Reflektor

By Kimberly Givant, Staff Writer

For months, fans have anxiously awaited the release of Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album. Since the beginning of August, a veve-inspired cryptic logo containing the letters to the title of the album, Reflektor, started appearing on walls in major cities around the world, causing a great amount of curiosity universally. On Aug. 26 the Canadian indie-rock band revealed being behind the guerilla-marketing campaign with another, larger mural in downtown Manhattan that read “Arcade Fire 9 P.M. 9/9,” the release date and time of videos for the band’s first single and title track off of the album. After months of hype, Reflektor was finally released on Oct. 28 to strong reviews by professional raters such as Rolling Stone and USA Today.

The first song, “Reflektor,” was also the first single released off the band’s new, two-disc album. This song introduces the direction the band has chosen to take with its new sound and exhibits the influences Haitian music has in the entire album.

“Reflektor” features instrumentals by Haitain percussionists Willinson Duprate and Verrieux Zile, who the band recorded with in Louisiana during the making of the new album.  The acclaimed single also includes vocals from the English rock legend David Bowie, as well as from frequent collaborators Owen Pallett and Colin Stetson.

The Haitian influences are continued heavily throughout part one of the album, as demonstrated in track four, “Here Comes The Night,” and the last song on the first disc, track seven, “Joan of Arc.”  The song, “Here Comes The Night” starts with recorded sounds from a busy street in Haiti and proceeds into what is probably Arcade Fire’s catchiest and most innovative song on the album. “Here Comes The Night” complements the Haitian influences with a new alternative pop sound. In the song “Joan of Arc,” like in “Reflektor,” backup vocals are sung in French by founding member and daughter of Haitian immigrants, Régine Chassagne, who brought the idea of incorporating Haitian sounds into the new album after visiting her family’s home in Haiti with her husband and fellow band member, Win Butler.

The second part of the album starts with a slow, hypnotic, reprise of track four entitled “Here Comes The Night Part II.”  Disc two contains songs such as “Porno” and “Afterlife,” which encapsulate the alternative-dance and indie-disco genres explored in the 2007 album Neon Bible. The album concludes with the 11-minute song “Supersymmetry,” which could be classified as the most experimental piece of the band’s career. All vocals in the song stop after three minutes, and what continues is eight minutes of electronic instruments and sounds. “Supersymmetry” sums up the advancements Arcade Fire made with this album in terms of originality, exploration, and
confidence.

Being able to progress as a band and expand creatively is exceptionally difficult for a band like Arcade Fire, who has had such immediate success and achieved worldwide popularity. With Reflektor, Arcade Fire successfully took the “next step” in its career and triumphed in its ability to combine new sounds with elements of its established style.

First-year Kimberly Givant is a layout assistant. Her email is kgivant@fandm.edu.

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