In the course of writing this review, I have wished to refuse to allow the irrational fear of misinterpreting or under-representing the true value of this album constrain my true ratings. I do not have many qualms with this masterpiece, only with my own abilities to describe my feelings and to completely grasp this entire album. Reflektor is a difficult album to review, for it doesn’t just jump out into your open arms, screaming, “hold me.” Reflektor is an album that I feel I could spend a lifetime listening to without ever seeing the entirety of what is written into these lyrics; it is a large commitment to even listen to the two-disc CD, but if you have the time, I recommend it. Reflektor seeps into your skin and hides away in your bone marrow, following you around in your everyday endeavors, begging you to think, to truly think. Be aware that this album is as haunting as the second version of “Here Comes the Night Time.” It starts as a low roar, like indistinct jubilation from that infamous party room down the hall, then swells into a giant tidal wave, attacking your core beliefs. This album is as much of an enjoyment to listen to as to truly uncover the message it sends to you.
In the vestibule of this listening experience, a distinction seems to be established between the “reflektors,” and the “normal people,” but as the album progresses, the meanings of these two groups seem to dive deeper, beyond a simple insider-outsider relationship. I am still asking, “What exactly is a reflektor,” but I am beginning to wonder if I should be asking, “Is this album really as cohesive as I want to believe it is?” This confliction seems to stem from my deep-seated love for Arcade Fire, whom I want to believe have grown since The Suburbs. This isn’t to say that they have remained static; this album seems more mature in many ways, “reflekting” Win’s expanded worldview, which inspired much of this album. Both parts of “Here Comes the Night Time” were inspired by his experiences in Haiti, specifically by the daily race during Carnaval to return home, a place of familiarity, before the night time, with all of its uncertainties and shadowy figures.
All of my favorite songs from this album required a bit more than just a taste for catchy lyrics. On the second disk, there are a series of songs that are fairly interesting to an untrained ear, but with a little digging, increase significantly in quality. I realize this is a review and not really a critical analysis type essay, but I must share this with you: Eurydice and Orpheus, characters from Greek mythology, were young lovers. As with any memorable love story, they both die, with Eurydice being the first to go. But Orpheus, who was extremely gifted in music and distraught for his lover, confronted Hades, eventually wooing him into submission with his beautiful songs. Hades allowed Eurydice to return to the world of the living, but Orpheus had to trust that she was right behind him the whole time (“Hey, Orpheus!/I’m behind you/ Don’t turn around”). But at the water’s edge, he turned to check, and Eurydice was returned to the underworld. As you can imagine, Orpheus was quite distressed and is considered to continue to guide the hands that create music mourning for lost love(“You will discover/That it’s never over”). Not surprisingly, the figures featured on the front of this album are Eurydice and Orpheus, as depicted by Auguste Rodin.
One last interesting tidbit I have picked up is on the basis of this album: Kierkegaard’s Reflective age. This is one of the meanings this album has taken on for me, that it adresses the problem of the Reflective age. People used to just act, they wouldn’t stop to think about how this activity they love might be judged, they didn’t stop to update their blog because an event may entice their followers. People used to enjoy things much more thoroughly. When you get past the shiny holographic cover of Reflektor you find a giant responsibility–at least I did. But as I type the final thoughts of this review, I can now say that I have successfully escaped the far stretching fingers of the reflective age, at least for the moment.
Recommended: You Already Know, Here Comes the Night Time II, Reflektor, It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus), Joan Of Arc