New Arcade Fire uses Greek myth to comment on society

Renee Sogueco, ‘Doah Staff Writer
November 20, 2013

“Reflektor,” the fourth album in Arcade Fire’s repertoire, sets the stage for the millennial generation. The well-known group Arcade Fire reigns from Montreal, Canada and produces indie rock music with thought-provoking lyrics.

Founded around 2001 and currently signed with Merge Records, the band went through various changes in members throughout the years. Currently, Win Butler, Régine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, William Butler, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara run the shows.

“Funeral,” their debut album, proved to be highly successful and was nominated for a Grammy in 2005. It wouldn’t be until the 2011 Grammy Awards that they would win Album of the Year.

In their newest album, “Reflektor” is reminiscent of David Bowie’s glam rock style, almost as strange and eerie as “Dance Magic Dance” from Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth.” This is rather obvious considering that David Bowie acts as a guest vocalist and mentor. Inspiration for the song and entirety of the album came from a trip of lead vocalist, Win Butler, and his wife, Régine Chassagne.

The music’s foundation is loosely based on Haiti’s rara music, with lots of emphasis on different percussion styles. The band even employs the help of Haitian percussionists Duprate and Verrieux Zile to contribute to the rhythm section. In terms of musical analysis, the song doesn’t go a long way. For indie music, the underlying rhythm and occasional synth creates the foundation for the strange mood.

Based on societal context, the song may address the growing reliance on technology. With social media, people are constantly connected, but the nature of connection is questioned.

Are we actually connected through computer and phone screens? According to Butler, a lot of the album takes inspiration from several different sources. References to the Greek myth of “Orpheus and Eurydice” are made as a metaphor – “it’s just a reflection of a reflection… but I see you on the other side?”

In the story, Orpheus attempts to rescue his wife, Eurydice, from Hades. He and his wife may be reunited so long as they both walk all the way to the other side of the upper world without him looking back.

Orpheus walks across the threshold and looks back, forgetting that she must cross as well. She then vanishes. Lines in French, written by Butler’s wife, also references back to this myth.

Repetitive at times, the song, “Reflektor,” requires selective taste, and listeners may believe they have the definition of “hipster” down. So long as no one asks what the song is actually about and they can sit still long enough to listen to the full seven minutes. Still, some may listen and ask some important existential questions of the current generation.

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