Now we know.
After snagging a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2010, Arcade Fire’s next album was already going to be a big deal. But when it broke that LCD Soundsystem frontman and dance-punk revivalist James Murphy had joined them in the studio as lead producer, the so-called ante turned significantly higher, by a factor of a about several atmospheres. Two of the most important influences in the indie music of the 2000s, who arguably couldn’t be more unlike one another, were combining forces.
Finally, with “Reflektor,” the first cut off the eponymous new album, we can begin to hear what this quasi-supergroup sounds like. Murphy’s touches — the throbbing bass, the squawk of scratchy needles — are unmistakable.
But LCD Soundsystem’s trademark minimalism has been exchanged for Arcade Fire’s maximalism. In fact, their penchant for the theatrical drags down the momentum in a languishing middle section, and by the time they rebuild what “Reflektor” already had going for it, reassembled with strings, piano, even a subtle set of bongos, the song has been running for nearly 8 minutes. It’s too long, but it drives home the point that the project has some promise.