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For the past month, Arcade Fire have slowly been rolling out clues about their new album, first with a mysterious “REFLEKTOR” tag that’s subsequently been spray-painted around the globe, then, a message to tune in at 9 p.m. on September 9, for the worldwide-premiere of the Anton Corbijn-directed “Reflektor” video, and finally, a rather dramatic (and shiny) rebranding as “The Reflektors.”
So, you can imagine their disappointment when, less than 72 hours before “Reflektor” was set to debut, the song leaked. It seems someone took it upon themselves to rip the track from limited-edition 12″ that was set to go on sale today — this is why we can’t have nice things, people! — and though the grand unveiling didn’t quite go as they’d planned, we’re willing to bet that somewhere, Arcade Fire are delighting in the discussion their brand-new single is creating.
Because, “Reflektor” certainly represents a new direction for the band … with its slipstream synthesizers, constant conga beat, four-on-the-floor focus and heavy horn section, it showcases a dancier side of the oft-serious art rockers.
Of course, it’s still plenty dark, too — with Win Butler keening “Trapped in a prism/In a prism of light/Alone in the darkness of White” (lyrics that were, in part, revealed on the back of the “Reflektor” 12″) and his wife Regine adding the odd, ethereal line in French — not to mention a cameo from David Bowie, whose voice adds a dour tone to the proceedings.
The song also doesn’t seem to stray far from many of the subject matter Butler explored on the band’s Grammy-winning The Suburbs album, either: namely, being disconnected in these increasingly connected times, of feeling lost and alone and trying to find your way back into the light, and a yearning to return to simpler times. And with a running time of more than seven minutes, it certainly recalls the epic, long-playing anthems of their Funeraldebut.
So while, on the surface, things have have gotten all shiny, down deep, Arcade Fire remain largely unchanged. They’re still going long, getting deep, asking the big questions, and, refreshingly, they’re still smart enough to realize there probably aren’t any answers.
Except, perhaps, this one: Stay the course. Because, despite “Reflektor’s” early premiere, the band still plan on premiering it around the globe at 9 p.m. tonight … and they’ve just announced a show at Montreal club Salsathèque for tonight at 9 p.m. Will they show up, or will it be their new alter-egos, the Reflektors, taking the stage?
Suppose all we can do is wait to find out … though, as the past 72 hours have proven, that’s not exactly our strong suit.