It’s here. After a beautifully executed marketing campaign highlighted by street art veve drawings and fictional bands, Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album, Reflektor, has arrived to bring music to our waiting ears. At a personal level, this record has struck a vibrant chord with me. The simplistic epic that was “Wake Up” from Arcade Fire’s debut, Funeral, was one of the first songs that opened up my musical horizons past classic rock, where I had always thought that the guitar solo was king. I’m finding my tastes diverging now into more like that of a dance-maven, and so a danceable album from the band that was a real catalyst in getting me to originally expand my musical horizons might just be my favorite release of the year when it’s all said and done.
London born electronic producer Gold Panda’s sophomore album Half of Where You Live, released this past June, showcases his experiences jetsetting throughout the world for the past three years, and boy is it a treat for the ears. The album stays fresh yet minimal by sampling different vibes from South American, Asian, and European countries in tracks named like An English House, Brazil, My Father in Hong Kong 1961, and Enoshima.
Coming off of last year’s monster single “The Mother We Share,” many (including yours truly) have been hotly anticipating more from Scottish synthpop band CHVRCHES. Could they sustain the rush of that song over a whole album? Would they be able to bring enough variety in their sugary-yet-melancholic sound to last an album’s length? Thankfully the answer to both of those questions on debut The Bones of What You Believe is “mostly yes.” With the sonic layers to please synth-heads and the songwriting prowess to please everyone else, CHVRCHES has delivered one of the year’s most fully realized debuts and one of the best pop records I’ve heard in ages.