Something I might not have mentioned is that I write for the student newspaper, Space. I’m part of the music section and each month, write a review on a new album that has just been released. This week, I’ve got to review Jake Bugg’s second LP, ‘Shangri-La’ and email it to the head of music at Space. I thought I’d take the time to upload my other reviews that I’ve already done this academic year. First up is King’s of Leon’s ‘Mechanical Bull’ followed by Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’. Enjoy.
Kings of Leon
For fans of: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers, Kasabian
After their three-year departure from releasing records and a slight Oasis-like, (but not as Mancunian or violent) spat at each other, one of the world’s biggest bands release their sixth album in a decade. Kings of Leon’s ‘Mechanical Bull’ has kept the ‘is it coincidental anymore’ theme of the five syllabic title. Album opener ‘Supersoaker’ straight away gets the listener’s attention, with a blistering chord sequence, sounding like a future classic in the band’s live setlist.
After two more crowd-pleasing definites from ‘Rock City’ and ‘Don’t Matter’, arguably the most emotional song on the record changes the dynamic completely. ‘Beautiful War’ is one of the more heart-wrenching numbers, grappling the listener into a transfixed state. Interestingly enough, this song was written in the same week as monster hit, ‘Use Somebody’, and you can tell, and you can hear that Caleb Followill, suggestively, was attempting to write the perfect rock song, and with those two songs amalgamated together, it pretty much is just that.
Stand-out song on the record, ‘Temple’ features some of the more dexterous lyrics. ‘The dance floor’s a temptress’ can be perceived in all sorts of ways, thus opening up the listener’s mind inventively. The rest of the majority of the album is littered with what one might call ‘epic’, Snow Patrol/Coldplay-esque pieces of music from the likes of ‘Tonight’ and ‘Coming Back Again’, giving the album a feel of raw instrumentality, not too overly-produced, with that Kings of Leon vibe that is so recognisable now in the music wilderness. All-in-all, it’s yet another flawless record from a band that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
For fans of: Mumford & Sons, David Bowie, LCD Soundsystem
It’s the bands that start with A this year that seem to be leading the biggest returns to music fans. First it was Arctic Monkeys and now it’s Arcade Fire. Reflektor has not just been an album, far from it. It’s been a promotional campaign, an item of secretive, subtle design and a spoofy celebrity-filled romp. All of 2013 has been leading up to this epic double album, which doesn’t fail to deliver.
Longest lead single of an album maybe ever at seven minutes and thirty-three seconds, ‘Reflektor’ kicks off the journey. If you could hypothetically imagine chucking music genres in a fruit bowl and mixing Haitian rara, soul, jazz, funk, indie and latin then you get this song. It leads nicely into ‘We exist’, which is marginally reflective of the band’s style heard on second LP, ‘Neon Bible’. A church organ is distinctive and fans of the band will know that ‘Neon Bible’ was recorded in a Church.
A psychedelic sound has never been explored too much in AF’s music, until now. Let’s just say it sounds like it was recorded in a sewer, but ironically has been excellently produced. Talking of production, former LCD Soundsystem frontman, James Murphy essentially was the Rick Rubin of this operation and it’s fair to say his own work as a producer has had a wonderfully-scaping effect on the finished product, thus making the quality impeccable.
An emotional record will always feature emotional lyrics. In final song ‘Supersymmetry’, lead singer Win Butler cries ‘I know you’re living in my mind, it’s not the same as being alive’. These lyrics are literally suggestive of the whole idea behind Reflektor. Reflektor has become a business model, been created and has formed another chapter in Arcade Fire’s flawless back-catalogue.