Arcade Fire “Reflektor” (2013) Album Review

It is tough to review this album. “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire is a unique album which should not come as a shock if you’ve listen to them before. Each of their albums tend to be different but also the same as well. “Funeral” with it’s themes of suburban life and dealing with death. “Neon Bible” with it’s themes of modern American culture and hypocritical religious figures. “The Suburbs” being a full-on concept album about suburban life/modern culture, reflecting on suburban life, criticizing our culture now, and being my personal favorite of the bunch. “Reflektor” is a lot of things. Confusing, unique, long, and most definitely requires multiple listens I’m sure as all Arcade Fire albums do. So, this review is fairly superficial, I can not deny that, I’m writing this upon my first listen. And…I still don’t know what to think.

The title/opening track, “Reflektor,” may seem like nothing but a fun dance track to be honest. And when it was first released, I did not think much of it. I found it to be alright. But, the more and more I’ve listened to it, it’s become clear of what it is about. It seems to be a fairly clear cut observation/criticism of our overbearing technology world. “Now, the signals we send, are deflected again/We’re still connected, but are we even friends?/We fell in love when I was nineteen/And I was staring at a screen.” Those lines alone make this album worth a listen, it’s fairly clear cut, and the line of “We’re still connected, but are we even friends?” is painstakingly true I find in our technology world where “real” conversations are nothing but superficial, in my opinion.

“We Exist“ is a track that seems fairly subjective as to its meaning, my interpretation is that it seems to be about teenagers which seems evident by “You know that we‘re young/You know that we‘re confused/But will you watch us drown?/What are you so afraid to lose?” The track itself has a rock, dance esque sound that seems to be around in most of this album. “Here Comes The Night Time” is another track I really enjoy but really have a lack of what it really means at the moment, it seems slightly cryptic and more open to interpretation. “Normal Person” is an important song in my mind. “Is anything as strange as a normal person/Is anything as cruel as a normal person/Waiting after school for you, you want to know if you’re normal too/Well, are you.” It seems to be about how society wants us to be the same, the same normal person. And it is extraordinarily true. Society doesn’t want us to be “weird” or “different,” in fact, in our social media world, I think it only convinces people to be less of themselves and more like everyone else. “Look at those Normals go/When they get excited they try to hide it.” To quote a favorite movie of mine, The Breakfast Club, “We’re all bizarre, some of us are just better at hiding it,” does a pretty good job of summing up the themes of this wonderful song.

“Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” seems to be about a relationship in the reflective age. One with all of the technology available. How it changes people and makes people react in situations, my feeling is that “the awful sound,” is meant to be the reign of technology. “You were born in the little town/Before the awful sound started coming down,” as in, the people in this song were born before the ridiculous amount of technology was available to them. I love the sound of the song, it feels more classic Arcade Fire (not that the new sounds in this album aren’t great). The song references Eurydice, one of the daughters of Apollo in Greek Mythology. To be honest, I still don’t know how it fits in for sure yet but it seems to link to the next track, “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)” and the relationship between the two of them in Greek Mythology. “Porno” is one of the more unique tracks on the album, mostly because I never imagined Arcade Fire would write a song about pornography and how it alters perceptions. “Little boys with their porno, Oh, I know they hurt you so.” A pretty clear statement about how the people growing up with an unlimited access to pornography can easily succumb to objectifying women, which I think is something important to be discusses because it is a problem, no doubt about it. Another line I like from the song is, “And boys they learn/Some selfish shit/Until the girl/Won’t put up with it.” Another important line about the selfishness one can learn from pornography, thinking it is all about them and being completely one-sided. Also, if anything, one of the great things is the song actually went as far as to have a looping backing track of porn-like music throughout the entire song.

“Afterlife. Oh my God, what an awful word,” is easily one of my favorite lyrics Arcade Fire has ever written with the way Win Butler sings it and how much is said just from a single line. Afterlife is an awful word. We should be focused on our actual lives, not what comes afterwards because right now is what is important. “Afterlife” isn’t a surprise from Arcade Fire, they’ve always had some themes about death or religion from their songs. This is one of the best they’ve done about said themes. It seems to parallel a relationship filled with screaming and shouting to the afterlife and it works very well.

Well, this was my overbearing, superficial first glance, review/impression/analysis thing of Arcade Fire’s new album. I’m not going to give a score to the album as I don’t see a reason to. Just listen to it. Ultimately, Arcade Fire is, in my opinion, the most important band of the past decade, with such a unique understanding of our modern culture and it makes me a happier person to see a group of people who understand the significant problems it is going through.


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