It’s fair to say that Arcade Fire’s third major album release, 2010’s The Suburbs, solidified their place in alternative rock’s history and is now at the forefront of mainstream music. Now, three years later and with a Grammy for Album of the Year under their belt, the Canadian collective is back with a new single. Reflektor, co-produced by long-time Arcade Fire collaborator Markus Dravs, former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, and the band themselves, packs the punches and will undoubtedly make some “best of” lists in the next few months.
Clocking in at over 7 minutes in length, the first lines are delivered in an almost eerie whisper. Frontman Win Butler and his wife/frontwoman Regine Chassagne’s vocals are spread over ringing keyboards and the sharp intake of strings. In keeping with Chassagne’s Haitian-Quebecois heritage, the song features French lyrics and the beat of jungle-infused drums.
Reflektor seems to borrow the same sound the band previously used on one of the standout numbers on The Suburbs, the very fun, catchy “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).” Incorporating the same type of disco-infused rock as The Rolling Stones’ “Miss Me” and even the darkness of Blondie’s “Rapture,” the band takes a much-hated genre among alternative/indie music listeners and makes it somehow very bearable and very listenable.
While the song may have somewhat of a “dancey” vibe, the lyrics suggest some questioning among Butler and his feelings toward Chassagne.
“We’re still connected
But are we even friends?
We fell in love when I was nineteen
And I was staring at a screen.“
Butler even goes as far as to suggest that making music without her, or maybe even without the band, could affect him negatively or cause an outcry from the public.
“I want to break free
But will they break me?”
Considering the lyrics’ dark undertone but the music’s funky bounce, it would be safe to consider Reflektor “the gloomiest disco song of 2013,” if there is even such a category. The song stands out for many reasons, but if you listen carefully, for only a few seconds, you’ll probably recognize a familiar voice. Yes, that would be David Robert Jones, or as you might know him… David Bowie.
This would easily be a 10/10 for me if it weren’t for the fact that this song is pretty damned long, and listening to it twice requires fifteen minutes of your time—solid work from one of the better bands out there.