I have to say, watching Arcade Fire’s sultry dancehall performance after SNL debuted their new season was a pretty odd for me. I mean, Arcade Fire, SNL, what, is it 2010 and I’m a Junior in high school again? I can’t speak for the quality of the SNL episode. I wasn’t all that interested. My peers and I stopped watching the show because it sort of just stopped being funny. Arcade Fire never stopped being good, and their taking 3 years to produce a new record could only mean the best things. When someone told me about “Reflektor” (the song) I really did go off like a kid. James Murphy produced? Bowie sings?! So I went all in.
The song is excellent. People keep mentioning Achtung Baby, or just U2 in general, and I think that’s way too easy (Bono was in the SNL video for god’s sake). U2’s been a part of the band’s sound since the start. The 8-minute groove of the track is much older than that seminal 1991 record that may have cursed us forever with the term “cross-over.” I hear post-punk of all kinds in the sound, and a New Wave influence more pronounced than ever before. Even Giorgio Moroder, who’s been dug up from the depths of the record bins they put below the other record bins since Daft Punk’s latest made him a major character, shows up stylistically. At the same time, it’s very current. It was really validating to hear the rhythm and know immediately that James Murphy was behind it. He tends to be considered a bit of a nostalgist, yearning with beats and music for a time long gone when people wore more neon and were just starting to hear about this drug that makes you want to have sex with the world. But the production on “Reflektor” is so him, not so 1981, and it’s genius too.
I was sad when “Reflektor” ended the first time, and I’m still sad 15 listens later. The Win and Regine deliver, as always, in the most relatable and emotional way, and make it hard not to think the song’s about you and you alone. The tracks they played in the SNL video are likewise great, but are a little out-of-context, so I’ll have to reserve judgement. Thankfully, I won’t have to reserve for very long. The album, also Reflektor, drops October 28.