Eric Kayne / Associated Press
Eric Kayne / Associated Press
Sorry. Shouldn’t shout Arcade Fire in a crowded building. That kind of reckless behavior could incite a riot.
2013 has been the year of the event album. Sure, there have been years that could take that title in retrospect, but the combination of big name releases and the modern world’s capacity for extreme hype has made this year something special. And by special, I mean exciting, nerve wracking, eye rolling and exhausting.
Arcade Fire’s latest record, Reflektor, has created some massive anticipation waves. After their “who the fuck is Arcade Fire?” Grammy win, they got some mainstream attention. They already had the rapt attention of the indie crowd. The “Reflektor” single involved a creepy music video with giant heads, they made an SNL appearance in said giant heads, the album leaked, then the band released a real version via YouTube.
And then…and then it disappeared. The stream was only accessible for a few days. I tried to listen to it last Friday, but the sound on my work computer broke. (It’s fine. It’s not my job to listen to music or anything.) So, I put off listening to it until the Sunday before the proper release. But they took it away, and I freaked out.
The first reason was the sense of duty. As a music journalist, I should be reviewing one of the biggest albums of the year. Major outlets started releasing their own glowing praise and I avoided reading into it, so as not to spoil my own analysis and opinions. Still, I couldn’t get Reflektor anywhere. Now it was just a serious case of FOMO. Something fantastic was out there and I was missing it.
I bitched. I moaned. No one really cared. That’s fair. I am a millennial brat.
Really, though. I didn’t grow up with album streams, Spotify or even Napster, but I sure as hell have gotten spoiled by all of those things. Waiting until the official release date to hear an album feels like deprivation. In the words of Veruca Salt, I want it now.
There’s an argument to be made in favor of the current model. Hype can help what little (relatively or truly little) sales a band gets. But I am going to give Arcade Fire my money anyway, so maybe I should just chill. Patience is a virtue, etc.
Or, maybe I exist in a world where I do get to expect to hear something before I purchase it. Is that so outrageous? I’m listening to Reflektor before I drop virtual cash on it for the same reason I would try on a dress before taking it to the register.
I won’t pretend I have a solution for the record-sales woes. There’s just, perhaps, a balance to be struck between rabid demand for an album before it’s release date and forking over the hard earned dollars before you know what you’re getting. I got impatient with Arcade Fire, but that system kind of worked. We got enough time to sample it before buying. Of course, this opens the door for a major Spotify debate, but that’s too much for now and, besides, this isn’t 2010.
The point is, everyone needs to calm down, myself included. Turns out I can survive being a little behind on the Arcade Fire hype cycle (though, professionally, missing the review for the release date is a resounding WOMP). We don’t yet have a model for listening before buying that’s flawless, but the balance we’ve found isn’t the worst, either.
Anyway, WHERE IS THE NEW M.I.A. GIVE IT TO ME NOW.