Reflektor

Music review by
Angela Zimmerman, Common Sense Media
Reflektor Music Poster Image
Arcane rock album is reflective, rewarding, a bit mature.

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive messages

This album has plenty of positive messages. Kids and teens familiar with the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, and those prone to literary analysis, may be able to extract messages about love, courage, temptation, identity, and loss. The band has stated that Reflektor also is based on philosopher Soren Kirkegaard's 19th-century writings about emptiness and disillusionment found in "The Present Age," and contemplative teens may find many positive takeaways as they consider those ideas in today's digital era.

Positive role models & representations

Songs about the enduring legend of Joan of Arc, as well as the union shared by mythical figures Orpheus and Eurydice, are beacons of love, courage, and strength in the face of persecution. Teens also may relate to the band's own wary cynicism on relatable issues such as relationships, technology, identity, conformity, and more.

Violence

Reflektor has dark undertones and touches on pain, alienation, and loss. "Joan of Arc" explores the persecution and murder of the historical figure; lyrics include, "Then they kill you." "Here Comes the Night Time II" has mildly violent lyrics, with "I hurt myself again" and "You hurt yourself again." "Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)" and "Afterlife" have dark, eerie lyrics and imagery: "Afterlife, my God, what an awful word / After all the breath and the dirt and the fires are burnt." "Supersymmetry" lyrics include, "If telling the truth is not polite / then I guess we'll have to fight."

Sex

This album has very little sexual content, although there's one mention of kissing in "We Exist," and "Porno" has lyrics about "little boys with their porno" -- though the song is more about objectification than sexualization.

Language

There are two instances of "s--t," one in "We Exist" and the other in "Here Comes the Night." There's also one "hell" in "Here Comes the Night." 

Consumerism

To interact with the video for the single "Reflektor," users must have a smartphone and Google Chrome -- an ironic twist on the album's commentary about the detriment of our digital existence. 

Drinking, drugs & smoking

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.  

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Kid, 12 years old December 22, 2013

Reflektor

As a long time fan of Arcade Fire, I was eagerly awaiting Reflektor. This album leans more toward a David Bowie style disco-indie rock hybrid, away from Arcade... Continue reading

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?

Music details

  • Artist: Arcade Fire
  • Release date: October 28, 2013
  • Type: Album
  • Label: Merge
  • Genre: Indie Rock
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No

For kids who love thought-provoking music

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