Several years ago, Montreal-based indie rock band Arcade Fire travelled to Haiti, the birthplace of vocalist Régine Chassagne’s parents, on a journey that would forever change them. It was there in the country’s remote villages, listening to the drums of the voodoo priests and watching entire communities dance together, that the seeds were planted for their fourth studio album, Reflektor.

Though Haiti’s influence on the band has appeared on their previous releases, including their 2004 debut Funeral, its impact is more palpable on Reflektor. It first creeps in through the dark tribal pulse of the irresistible title track and the album’s first single, then becomes undeniable on “Flashbulb Eyes” with its reggaetón-inspired movement and the lyrics, “What if the camera really do take your soul?” This pounding rhythm melts into “Here Comes the Night Time,” the strongest track on the album. The six-and-a-half-minute journey soothes with its Caribbean-inspired melody, making the anxiety-inducing build and cacophonous crescendo even more surprising.

Between the island influence and the inclusion of former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy as co-producer along with Markus Dravs, Reflektor is truly new territory for Arcade Fire. Those who prefer the music that the band made back when their inspiration came from suburbs closer to home will feel more comfortable in the latter half of the double album, but frankly, these songs lack the black magic and voodoo rhythms that makes the first half of Reflektor so infectious and impossible to deny.

By Sara Elizabeth Taylor

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