I don’t even know where to start with this one. From start to finish Reflektor has blown my mind, picked up the pieces, rearranged them, and stuck them back together, leaving me with a sense of confusion and wonder over what I have just experienced. Arcade Fire‘s rare ability to create a record with the sincere intention of transforming it into a piece of art has made Reflektor one of the most highly anticipated releases of this year.
2010s The Suburbs set the bar seriously high, but having tantalised fans with bizarre video snippets, live performances under the pseudonym ‘The Reflektors’ and continuing the tradition of interactive online music videos (click this) Reflektor, split into two CDs, was finally released last week. The 75-minute epic rivals its older sibling in all the ways The Suburbs isn’t.
Reflektor and We Exist start us on an eerie, existential path, winding its way on the waves of Win Butler’s breathy and quivering vocals, hauntingly harmonised by wife Régine Chassagne and supported by an array of Caribbean drums, piercing guitar and electronic blasts, which can be heard all the way through Flashbulb Eyes. It builds into a cumulation of controlled chaos which drives the record through a storm of noise in Here Comes The Night Time and Normal Person. The first half of Reflektor finishes with the heart thumping, pulsating Joan of Arc before beginning part two by returning with a stripped back, ghostly version of Here Comes The Night Time, taking the album on a darker path into the second half of the record.
Butler’s Orpheus and Chassagne’s Eurydice take centre stage as we switch into a futuristic version of the greek tragedy in Awful Sound and It Never Ends. It’s a beguiling, elysian retelling of the tragedy, switching between Orpheus’ sorrow, expressed by Butler’s lamenting lyrics and Eurydice’s frustrated foreshadowing of the tragic conclusion; “Oh Orpheus, Eurydice, it’s over too soon.” We leave the recesses of the Greek underworld and enter back into the celestial present with the dubious pondering’s of Porno.
The 11-minute long simplicity of Supersymmetry combine a delicate concoction of synthesisers, classical violin and African-style drums to complete the journey Reflektor has taken us upon. It’s a fairly anti-climactic end to such a bafflingly intelligent album, but I think that is the point. Arcade Fire have carefully crafted a record that deserves to be listened to with an open mind, it deserves to me mused over and ultimately, reflected upon. It is both all over the place, and incredibly precise, it’s message is unclear and exhausting to deconstruct. Reflektor is nothing like anything I have ever heard before, and nothing like anything I will ever hear again.