Impressing indie/alt pundits and impressing the masses are two vastly different things in today’s music market, but with 2010’s “The Suburbs,” Arcade Fire managed to achieve both.
Riding the momentum of successful releases “Funeral” and “Neon Bible,” “The Suburbs” debuted as a commercial smash, moving roughly 156,000 units en route to a debut atop Billboard 200. It also appeared on virtually every major year-end list.
But that was nothing compared to its feat at the 2011 Grammys. Up against four powerful mainstream acts in Lady Gaga, Eminem, Katy Perry and Lady Antebellum, Arcade Fire nonetheless managed to score the victory for Album of the Year. Suddenly, Arcade Fire was everyone’s radar–and not just as an indie-rock band beloved by alternative publications.
Though surely welcomed, the boost in profile also placed an enormous burden on the band. While plenty of beloved indie-alt acts fail to recreate the brilliance of their past work, few do so on such a public platform.
Arcade Fire will not have the luxury of flying under the radar. Mainstream music fans–not just cult ones–expect the band’s next album to be good. So it better be good.
Music fans will not truly know whether Arcade Fire makes good on that expectation until October 29, when the band’s studio album “Reflektor” officially hits shelves.
But they got their first taste of the band’s attempt Monday.
That taste–the epic, 7:42 minute video for the title track–is certain to make an impression. Seamlessly incorporating their familiar sound into a funkier, more lavish production, the song, which features a “brief backing vocal” from David Bowie, reflects a band that wants to evolve without selling out. A band that wants to honor its past without playing it safe.
It is a move that comes with risks and one that will surely come with its detractors.
But if previous Arcade Fire supporters are going to allege “Reflektor” falls short of the expectations, the band seems determined to assure that disappointment is not blamed on stagnation or insincerity.
What is your take? Catch the video below: