After winning the Album of the Year Grammy for the grand landscape of 2010’s The Suburbs, Arcade Fire sets out to out-epic themselves on their sprawlingly ambitious fourth album. You know you’re in for something big when the first track alone is more than seven minutes, and that’s not even the longest one. (“Supersymmetry,” the superindulgent closer, is over 11 minutes!) The whole thing clocks in at 75 minutes, and it really feels that long, taking – and sometimes testing – your patience. But like Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories – another flawed gem of sweeping vision this year – Reflektor is a must-hear event. The title tune sets the tone with a moody groove that finds the alt-rockers funking it up with none other than David Bowie on backup vocals. Other rhythm-driven tracks also take AF’s atmospherics to the dance floor, with production by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. On the wildest cut, the tempo-shifting “Here Comes the Night Time,” they veer from a whirling breakdown to a calypso-inflected reggae beat—and back and forth again. Moments like this show that when Reflektor peaks, it soars.
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