With David Bowie's cameo on the title track, it seems like Arcade Fire are thumbing their noses at critics who might accuse them of ripping him off. But while it has plenty of Bowie references, Reflektor actually has much more in common (both structurally and sonically) with the disco/reggae/punk of the Clash's 1979 masterpiece double album, London Calling.
Both epics find formerly underground bands struggling to come to terms with mainstream acceptance, and following their impulses to make more danceable music that pulls from a wider set of influences than they were previously known for. When Reflektor's Caribbean elements come to the fore, for example, the resemblance to the Clash's reimagining of Jamaican dub is even more apparent.
Their trademark stadium-friendly indie anthems have mostly been replaced by sprawling art-funk grooves, and they picked the right producer in DFA's James Murphy to pull it off. It's not a perfect record, but nothing this ambitious was ever going to be.
Top track: Reflektor