Arcade Fire are giving us palpitations again. After the release of Reflektor, with its Dantesque promo and tour, we were afraid that they’d put music on the back burner. In fact, Win Butler and Régine Cassagne, the band’s front-people, have had a baby and opened a restaurant. Win also DJs under the pseudonym DJ Windows98. Will Butler and Richard Parry Reed have respectively released solo albums. The church that the group bought and turned into a studio for the recording of Neon Bible has also been put up for sale. This is a list of things that made us fear the worst.
But worry not! A new album is no longer just wishful thinking, but is in fact somewhat of a deluxe edition, made up of six eclectic bonus tracks – unreleased and initially excluded from Reflektor. It’s something to get our teeth into before the announcement of new projects, or at least we really hope so.
The first track, « Apocrypha » opens with the sound of retro speech that we first heard with « Here Comes the Night Time » and « You Already Know » on the first version of the disc. Folk-rock and biblical references are found accompanying Butler’s band next to dear Joan of Arc (who has a track written in her name!). « Women of a Certain Age » features a few hints of reggae which blend with the Canadians’ indie rock to bring a slightly different feel. The slower tempo highlights the influences of Jamaica, where the band recorded a part of the record.
The dub remix of « Flashbulb Eyes » by the reggae musician Dennis Bovell exhibits the deep voice and the controlled flow of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jamaican poet, which go well with the danceable atmosphere of the original track. We rediscover the opportunity for mixing things up that encapsulates the music of Arcade Fire, and we love it. The hazy piano of « Soft Power » leads us to a more melancholy section of their discography, and the burning memories of what they were capable of doing with this Power.
The blues rock of « Get Right » hurtles along with a riff that feels like leather, sweat and old cigarettes (a bit like Julian Casablancas, but better). The intoxicating motif accompanies Win Butler’s which, with the doubled-up vocals, gives a choral effect. The synth leads us softly to a noisy end which quickly resolves to make way for « Crucified Again ». This last unreleased track unfurls softly and fragilely with a little guitar melody and Win’s voice reaching the high notes. In the last movement of the track, the whole group joins in for a joyous mess of sound which reminds us a little of Funeral.
This EP-in-disguise does nothing revolutionary or radically new in the Arcade Fire universe. Nevertheless the gesture – which has a hint of fan service about it, it has to be said – delights us. With pleasure we prolong the Reflektor experience and relight the flame that burns for the return of the Canadian group. These six unreleased titles have been released in the form of a limited edition cassette tape, available from the 16th October, and on vinyl, with « Get Right » on side A and « Crucified Again » on side B. Collectors have thus hurried to the group’s website to preorder the new formats.
The new tracks accompany the release of The Reflektor Tapes, a documentary film which takes us behind the scenes of the creation of the album, released in 2013, and the tour which followed. Presented at the Toronto International Film Festival and already being projected in cinemas across North America, it’s very likely that we’ll be able to get our hands on it here on the Old Continent. We’ll leave you with the trailer: