On “The Suburbs (continued)” the final track off Arcade Fire’s excellent 2010 album, The Suburbs, married singers Win Butler and Régine Chassingne whisper, “sometimes I can’t believe it, I’m moving past the feeling” – a wistful farewell to the leafy suburbia that had taken them three excellent albums to leave. On their new single it is clear that the baroque rockers from Montréal have finally left their comfort zone to embrace the dizzying lights of the city.
With Butler’s oblong haircut and a posse of hurdy-gurdy wielding bandmates, Arcade Fire has never been described as cool. But with Godfather producer himself James Murphy at the helm, Arcade Fire have created a galloping disco and dance-punk inspired epic that has them working at the peak of their powers. Although Arcade Fire have flirted with a similar sound before – most notably on Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) – this single oozes unprecedented cool. The band sound brasher, bolder and bigger, equally suited to a stadium concert or a euphoric solo fist-pump as it blasts through iPod earphones.
At the core of the song however, is the relationship between Butler and Chassagne, who probe questions of love, technology and modernity through the metaphoric device of the ‘Reflektor’, which reflects and distorts our hopes, longings and aspirations. This song is a clear statement: it hurtles headlong toward a stunning climax, and Arcade Fire are reflecting that path. They have left the suburbs and they’re heading skywards, to the zenith of their career.