To say that Reflektor was ambitious for Arcade Fire is a severe understatement. The band’s first double album was accompanied by a complete change in their sound, a guerilla marketing campaign, late-night TV specials and more. But also, for the first time, it felt like Arcade Fire’s reach somewhat exceeded its grasp.

The album was more sprawling than The Suburbs, but less focused. There’s a good amount of filler that you have to dig through to get to the gold. Some songs come off as New Wave sketches or try for a certain sensation only to completely whiff. That being said, it’s certainly not as big of a mess as Everything Now. But listening to it after the three classic records that came before it, you can’t help but feel a little let down or exhausted by the time Reflektor concludes.

Part of that comes down to the volume of unnecessary tracks, but also sidelining a couple of great tunes to the deluxe edition release. By switching a few songs around, and swapping out some weaker ones for better b-sides, we’ve crafted an alternate, single album version of Reflektor that hews closer to the band’s strengths and makes for a more enjoyable listen.

New tracklist:

1. “Reflektor”
2. “You Already Know”
3. “Normal Person”
4. “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)”
5. “Soft Power”
6. “Porno”
7. “Here Comes The Night Time”
8. “We Exist”
9. “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)”
10. “Afterlife”
11. “Get Right”

Songs Omitted: “Flashbulb Eyes,” “Joan Of Arc,” “Here Comes The Night Time II,” “Supersymmetry”

1. “Reflektor”

Arcade Fire knows how to start their albums on the right foot, and Reflektor is no different. The title track is a fantastic, heady seven-minute experience that prepares us for a different journey than we’ve been used to from the band to date. Almost immediately, the sharp groove will get you moving, while your ears perk up at every new melody that appears. It encompasses both organic instrumentation and synth-heavy atmospherics in one. You also can never go wrong with a guest appearance from David Bowie.

2. “You Already Know”

“You Already Know” keeps the album upbeat and lively, again bringing a stronger rhythm than expected but tying it to jaunty layered guitars. Plus, it’s thematically fitting to follow a song titled “Reflektor” with an audio sample of a previous talk show performance. It’s a nice bit of commentary but without hitting the audience over the head with it, a frequent problem for Arcade Fire.

3. “Normal Person”

The previous song’s audience applause getting cut off by the feedback that starts “Normal Person” is a nice touch that the original tracklist lacks. While some of the lyrics of this tune will still cause eyes to roll, there’s no denying how fun that harsh guitar riff sounds. It’s another energetic track that keeps your interest, showing that Arcade Fire still knows how to rock out when it’s called for.

4. “Awful Person (Oh Eurydice)”

While it’s a bit of a shame to break up Eurydice and Orpheus in the album’s revised tracklist, musically, the rustic, percussive vibes of “Awful Person” fit much better after a rock song like “Normal Person” rather than in the synth-heavy landscape of “Here Comes The Night Time II” and “”It’s Never Over.” After the irony and ruminations on celebrity found in the last two songs, this tune restores some earnestness and heft to the record with wonderful vocals performances and cutting lyrics.

5. “Soft Power”

This underrated tune sounds like it could be a lost Elton John song, mainly powered by a melancholic, catchy piano melody. With some subtle background guitar work, and Win Butler singing softly, it’s a great ballad that continues a slow downshift started by “Awful Person.” It gives the album a much-needed breather.

6. “Porno”

The countdown from “Soft Power” flows perfectly into the finger snaps that kick off “Porno,” one of the most underrated songs in Arcade Fire’s catalog. It’s got a desperate passion at its heart, amplified by the warped lounge keys, like a disco caught in molasses. In the middle of the revised tracklist, the song gets its due more than it did falling between two masterpieces of “It’s Never Over” and “Afterlife.”

7. “Here Comes the Night Time”

After the pensive tones of the last few songs, “Here Comes the Night Time” arrives like a bouncy balm, offering a chance to dance away the gloom. No matter how many times you listen to it, the moment when those guitars shred and rhythm rockets forward is pure adrenaline. It feels even more powerful coming later in the album, rather than reinforcing an already energetic start.

8. “We Exist”

To keep the feet moving, “We Exist” makes a great follow-up to the electricity of “Here Comes The Night Time.” The way the slippery bass and guitar strums weave together remains fantastic, as do the wavy synths that shimmy through the soundscapes. It’s a different type of night time than the previous tune, this one in a darkened club with strobe lights rather than out at the carnival.

9. “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)”

Another brilliant slow-build from Arcade Fire, one that fully embraces the New Wave strut found in the last few songs. But while the second half of the album gets your body moving, each number does it in a completely different way. Having these dance tunes arrive one after the other creates a continuity and flow that the original tracklist lacked. If “Eurydice” represents the more organic first half of Reflektor, then “Orpheus” dominates the groove-heavy second half.

10. “Afterlife”

It’s a widely-held belief among Arcade Fire fans that the second-to-last track on each of their albums is one of if not the best of the bunch. “Afterlife” follows the proud tradition of “Rebellion (Lies),” “No Cars Go” and “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” in its brilliance. The rhythm sways and floats with a feathery grace, while Butler and Régine Chassagne’s voices harmonize exquisitely. It’s an excellent capstone on a sensational run of songs.

11. “Get Right”

At first, “Get Right” might seem like an odd choice for a closer. But as it goes on, it makes more and more sense. “Better get right/before you die,” Butler repeats, a fitting continuation of “Afterlife.” Musically, it opens with a bluesy stomp that sounds unlike anything that came before it on the record. As it moves on though, the guitar fades into the background as an atmospheric synth grows louder and more encompassing. Arcade Fire rides that mix of guitars and synths to the end, an engrossing mediation on life and death to close a record preoccupied with reflection.

Omissions:

“Flashbulb Eyes”

Simply put, this is the worst song on Reflektor. The echoing drums are kind of cool, but the squealing mess of synths, steel drums and horns all create a headache. Not to mention that Butler’s lyrics on the camera stealing your soul are meager and atrocious. It nearly derails the album for good, only three songs in.

“Joan of Arc”

The aggressive, guitar-heavy intro of “Joan of Arc” is fantastic, but the rest of the tune can’t match up to its energy. The chorus is somewhat catchy but there’s not much melody or strong instrumentation to hold the song together. Plus, the ending feels like it goes on forever. This should’ve been relegated to B-side status.

“Here Comes The Night Time II”

Opening side two of the album with this dreary dirge is a baffling decision by Arcade Fire. This song adds nothing to the record, a three-minute interlude that will put you to sleep. It’s like the band recalled how successful sequel tracks were on Funeral and The Suburbs, so they felt the need to do it here too. That was a mistake, a lesson they sadly didn’t learn on Everything Now either.

“Supersymmetry”

This was the hardest song to cut from the original tracklist. It’s definitely the best of the omissions by far, with a gentle, bubbling pulse to close out Reflektor. But no matter how many times I’ve heard it, its melody fails to stick in my mind. Arcade Fire knows how to write outstanding album closers, but nothing on Reflektor really hits the mark like “In the Backseat” or “My Body is a Cage.” “Get Right” isn’t a perfect way to wrap-up, but it feels more unique and memorable than “Supersymmetry.” And since there’s nowhere else for this song to fit on the album, it’s got to go.

Listen to the new version of Reflektor here:

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