A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Reflektor is the fourth studio album by Canadian rock band Arcade Fire. The band has stated that the double album was inspired by the culture and music of Haiti, the 1959 film Black Orpheus, and writings of 19th-century philosopher Soren Kirkegaard. The songs are rich with existential themes of alienation, persecution, identity, and the emptiness of the modern age. The album's philosophical center and abstract parallels may be too complex for many kids to understand. Several songs have mildly dark and violent imagery, and there are a few uses of strong language (two instances of "s--t" and one "hell"). Other than one mention of kissing and an innocuous song called "Porno," the album is tame enough for older tweens and teens. The interactive music video for the single "Reflektor" requires that the listener have a smartphone and Google Chrome. The music video for "Afterlife" opens with a father and two sons sitting around a dinner table praying and talking in Spanish and then explores the loss and loneliness each faces in their dreams after the apparent death of the mother.
What's the story?
REFLEKTOR is Arcade Fire's existential and sprawling fourth studio album. Though the band has stated that it was influenced by Haitian culture and music, 19th-century philosophy, and Greek mythology, the songs are staunchly modern and themes are reflective of the present day. Brooding songs of alienation, haunting odes against conformity, dance-y tracks about technology, and musings about death, love, and loss make for a dense and thought-provoking album rife with meaning.
Is it any good?
Arcade Fire is known for overblown, pompous, indie-rock records, and Reflektor is certainly of that ilk. A masterful concept album that dances with existential themes and weaves together assorted musical styles, Reflektor begets countless listens and interpretations. This brilliantly crafted album is dense and indulgent, but there's a percussive urgency to the songs, in part thanks to LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy's production work. For kids or teens disinterested in wading through the heavy lyrical content, Reflektor has plenty else to offer; carefully arranged melodies, unpredictable tempos, keen production, and contributions from artists such as Owen Pallet, Kid Koala, and David Bowie make for an endlessly interesting and perpetually rewarding listen.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the diverse musical styles on Reflektor. Do you think the album as a whole sounds disjointed or seamless?
Listen to some of Arcade Fire's earlier records and songs. In what ways has their sound remained consistent over the years? How have they evolved?
Families can talk about Joan of Arc. How does the titular song pay homage to her legend? How does it play into some of the record's larger themes?
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