An Analysis of Arcade Fire’s Single “Reflektor”

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The Canadian based band Arcade Fire have released their first single, the album’s title song “Reflektor”, alongside an incredibly visually attractive and interactive music video, providing a wonderful glimpse of their up-coming album. The title track is also the first track on the album, and through it’s musical composition and lyrical arrangement, the band gives us an astounding perspective on how they have continually improved their sound while staying true to their previous work.

Here’s a quick break down of why Arcade Fire’s new album will be worth the listen.

“Reflektor” immediately launches into an irresistibly catchy tune almost impossible to keep from tapping your foot to, or straight up dancing.

The first verse opens with Win, the lead male vocalist and husband of lead female vocalist, Regine Chassagne. “We fell in love, alone on a stage in the reflective age,” Win sings. Regine responds in the Pre-Chorus singing in French, “Entre la nuit, la nuit et l’aurore. Entre le royaume des vivants et des morts,” roughly translated as, “Between the night, night and dawn. Between the realm of the living and the dead.” The husband and wife duo sing to each other before the Chorus, implying the concept of their love as being a distortion via the reflector.

Verse 2 is directed to the listener, “Now, the signals we send, are deflected again. We’re still connected, but are we even friends?” This statement asks the listener if they’re even friends if the original message is deflected in the original concept.

Verse 3 then examines how the medium, in which this very song is presented, distorts the original, “Our song escapes, on little silver discs. Our love is plastic; we’ll break it to bits. I want to break free, but will they break me down?”

Here the couple specifically points to how their music in Verse 1 literally “escapes” onto these mediums in the form of CDs, and even worse, digital files.

Ultimately, the song ends by placing the interpretive responsibilities in the listener’s lap. The interactive video specifically does this as at the end of the song the video is totally under the listener/viewers control. “It’s a Reflektor, just a Reflektor, Will I see you on the other side?” Arcade Fire has given us an amazing single that stands by itself as a remarkable achievement in creating a statement on the connection between the musician and audience, a connection that has been degrading ever since the evolution of digital file sharing. Will you see Arcade Fire on the other side?

Who’s the Good Guy Now?

Who’s the Good Guy Now?

It is a tough decision to decide who is genuinely good or bad in the AMC TV series Breaking Bad and a lot of fans realize this as the show comes to an end this year. The lack of an all-around “good guy” in the series sets Breaking Bad apart from the rest of television. Practically all of the major characters in the show are written to be hated to some degree, but the main character is the worst of them all.
Each character has a flaw that not only makes them unlikeable, but so very real. It is the inability to label any character solely good or bad that brings reality to this fictional storyline. Walter White, the main character, is at first driven to become a methamphetamine dealer to provide money for his family after being diagnosed with cancer. The original purpose and motive behind Walt’s decision originally made him an admirable character, but his actions throughout the series indicated that he’s not the good guy we thought he was. We find Walt obsessing over the money the business has brought him well after he made the minimal amount he needed to keep his family out of debt. After experiencing the awkward interaction with his old friend and colleague who has made millions off of the business he and Walt created, we then see that it is not the value of money but the validation it represents that drives Walt. It is in that moment we can determine that pride and jealousy are Walter’s main motivations.
There are other characters to be analyzed in Breaking Bad to be determined as “good” or “bad,” but it is most assuredly true that Walter can be ruled out as the show’s good guy or hero.

“Feel It All Around” to “It All Feels Right”; A Review of Washed Out’s Paracosm

Washed Out, a formally minimalist chillwave musician consisting of Ernest Greene from Athens Georgia, accelerated quickly in notoriety when his single “Feel It All Around” became the theme song for the television series, Portlandia, and via the help of initially wonderful reviews by pitchfork.com and Urban Outfitters. The band is noted as a groundbreaking element in shaping the “chillwave” genre, specifically their EP Life of Leisure in 2009.

Four years later, after releasing a sophomore album Within and Without, Washed Out released Paracosm in the summer of 2013. One single from his newest album, “It All Feels Right”, appeared visually and audibly as a reminiscent mirroring of his first hit single, “Feel It All Around.” The similarity of these titles, alongside the actual sound of the songs, allude to a mature and nostalgic feeling for his earlier works, before the impact of mainstream popularity demands effected his creativity.

The album itself consists of some of the most experimental sound sampling and vast range of instruments that eventually brought about the album title,Paracosm. The album title quite accurately coincides with its content, a mass collaboration of sampling in a world of its own; from whirling scales of a harp, electronically warped instruments, wind chimes, bells, and even twittering bird sounds are strewn throughout. While this attempt at creativity leans more towards generalized expansion and chaos, the album manages to flow song to song like a rainforest safari, on LSD.

Basically, Paracosm sounds like a bunch of pretty colors floating past, carried by the wind until the end of the album, leaving nothing particularly memorable. Given a second listen though, notable songs such as, “Don’t Give Up” and “All I Know” seem closest to the heart of Washed Out’s distinguishing sound. Paracosm received mixed criticism, mainly negative hints towards Ernest Greene allegedly selling out to Urban Outfitters, while others stayed positive on his latest work despite the accusations. In defense of his more ambient whirlpool of sound sampling, Washed Out says he wrote this album through the little moments in life that makes him feel wonderful and alive. Regardless of its simplicity at moments, his statement perfectly describes the feel-good-happy-go-lucky songs fromParacosm. Thankfully the album is pleasant and great to share with friends and family, or listen to while studying. Let’s just hope Washed Out doesn’t literally become washed out in sound next time.

Welcome

Dear Reader,

Welcome to a new year of the Sequoya Review. As the Online Editor for the year, I wanted to be the first to welcome you, our reader to the new year. For those of you who are new here, I wanted to also explain a little about the Sequoya Review. The Sequoya Review has been around since the late sixties and it is the literature journal posted by UTC. Since it is a literary journal, this means that all the pieces that have been given to us are from current students at UTC who are from incredibly diverse backgrounds with far different stories to tell about life and the Sequoya Review is a celebration of this diversity. I am grateful for your readership as we invoke a new year and ask that you return to support this journal, for without your reading, we would have no need to produce.

Stephen