[4] Arcade Fire, ‘Reflektor’

2013-arcade-fire

Speaking of misunderstood albums…

No, this is ‘Reflektor’ the track, the epic they had to come back with once James Murphy was in the room. Maybe a three-minute pop song would’ve been a more radical statement, but as soon as they all got together you imagine they wanted to show everything they could do. Absolutely everything. Junior is fascinated by Regine Chassagne singing in French, but the moment belongs to Junior’s mum who wins the Spot David Bowie game. It’s not just his signature baritone; it’s the point at which a pretty smart kinetic groove turns on the trombone-honking thrills to confirm this is more than just the Lo-Fidelity Allstars rebooted. Which counts as a compliment in 2013.

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[10] Arcade Fire, ‘We Used To Wait’

Arcade Fire

How good it was to see the return of Win Butler and his cheery “You spilled my pint and I will have my revenge by means of snide humiliation” countenance. Just when you think you might be overwhelmed by the bombastic brilliance of the occasional Arcade Fire anthem, there’s always time to remember what a boorish bunch of curmudgeons lurks behind the highs. Not you though, Regine, you seem nice. It’s Regine too who comes up with the high here, sustaining the chorus refrain as cuddly Win goes off on his tangent. Elsewhere, ‘We Used To Wait’ is rather trim for an epic, vamping hard on the piano, initially threatening to turn into The Beach Boys’ ‘You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone’ and introducing some hammond swirls that were probably intended to be a bit Doors but end up being a lot Inspirals. It’s a brooding set of thrills that tower over a largely forgettable (and perplexingly highly rated in year-end lists) album.

In tune with the jolly atmosphere, Junior looks glum and determined to read her Roald Dahl books instead.

[9] Arcade Fire, ‘Intervention’

Arcade Fire, ‘Intervention’

Is there an Arcade Fire backlash yet? Now that Q have put Neon Bible at No.1 in their albums of the year, I imagine it’s about to start. I mean, come on, a good half of it is what the skip button was invented for.
 
But ‘Intervention’ wears its overblown charms with justifiable pride. It fashions the opening fanfare from Boy Meets Girl’s cheese-riddled ‘Waiting For A Star To Fall’ into something dramatic, something glorious, and piles headlong into a chest-beating damnation of church and state. Ridiculous. No strangers to pomposity, this most sullen (apart from the beaming, accordion-playing Regine Chassagne) of bands get away with it because of their profound well of top pop tunes.
 
Junior raises her arms to the sky for the organ’s opening notes then swims through the air like one of the eerie water babes from their stage films. We thought she was with her grandparents while we were at Glastonbury, but it seems she was there – squirreled away in a wellie?