Published over at WhatCulture…
Montreal’s finest indie-rock outfit Arcade Fire are back, and they’ve teamed up with James Murphy and David Bowie to deliver the title track and lead single from their new album Reflektor – a sprawling, swirling, gradually escalating disco-infused monster. Mr Bowie contributes eerie-sounding backing vocals to the track, while ex-LCD Soundsystem man James Murphy helms production.
The seven-minute epic continues themes explored on their 2010 masterpiece The Suburbs, an album loosely based around the idea of a search for the notion of home in an ever-shrinking world. The track’s central premise is that, in these GIF-saturated technology-driven times, art – especially digital media – is just a reflection… a pale echo of a purer sound. The message couldn’t be more relevant in our age of retweets, instagram photo sharing, and viral media.
‘Reflektor’ reinforces preoccupations that have long been on lead singer Win Butler’s mind: on 2007’s ‘Black Mirror’ he bemoaned the world’s descent into an Orwellian surveillance-dominated society, while on 2010 tracks ‘We Used To Wait’ and ‘Deep Blue’ he wistfully lamented the way technology was gradually encroaching on all aspects of our lives. Butler urged us to break free on the outro to ‘Deep Blue’: “Hey, put the cellphone down for a while – in the night there is something wild/ And hey, put the laptop down for a while – in the night there is something wild…”
Similar themes resonate heavily across Reflektor’s aural landscape, a savage indictment of the fickleness of relationships being sustained by social media (“Now, the signals we send, are deflected again/ We’re still connected, but are we even friends?”) and the need to break free from the banality of these watered-down versions of reality before they consume us (“Our love is plastic, we’ll break it to bits/ I want to break free, but will they break me?”) as reflections once consumed Narcissus.
The stunning Anton Corbijn-directed video provides a harrowing visual representation of the band’s lofty concerns. It’s dense with imagery showing the blurring of boundaries between words, and mankind’s poor attempts to mirror creation. In it, the band wear papier-mâché masks of their own faces, to convey that each day we wear a mask to represent one of the multitude of sloughed-off selves that reside within each of us.
It’s powerful. It’s mesmerising. It’s f*cking awesome. Arcade Fire aren’t just out to provide the soundtrack to your year, they’re trying to save your soul at the same time. Not for the first time, they look like the most important band in the world.
Reflektor will be released on October 29.
(9.5 / 10)