Album round-up: Arcade Fire, JD Samson & MEN

20130910061006!ArcadeFireReflektorArcade Fire – Reflektor

Innovative promos, a sprawling two-disc album, and songs as epic as their names: in terms of reach and pre-release fervour alone, Arcade Fire are certainly filling a ‘serious music’ void left by Radiohead. Reflektor continues to build on the excellence of their last album, with Win Butler and co on fine form – from the title track, which never stops holding your attention over seven-plus minutes, to the rousing Joan of Arc, there’s no alienation in their experimentation. Even if songs like We Exist and Flashbulb Eyes don’t quite hit the mark, they’re more than made up for by the guitar-hooks of Normal Person or You Already Know, which comes loaded with a chorus that’s vintage Fire. It’s a mild shame that CD2 seems a bit superfluous – let’s not even discuss that Supersymmetry coda – but for all the good that Arcade Fire do for our ears, it’s a price we’re happy to pay.

laborcoverJD Samson & MEN – Labor

We became huge fans of Le Tigre’s JD Samson and her new offshoot MEN when they released the insanely catchy All The Way Thru, a disco-pop gem from leftfield. Sadly, the Yuksek-produced full-length is less Labor, more labour-intensive. Very few tracks echo the lead single, instead being slightly monotonous, at times even irritating, attempts at electro-pop. It’s probably not helped by the fact that Samson herself is a little bit too tame for taste, effectively emasculating these MEN before they’ve even reached adulthood. Barring the better-than-Icona-Pop fist-pumper Neon Poles, it’s a disappointment.