You may or may not have seen mysterious stickers of a grid with letters plastered on the streets of Berkeley. No, this isn’t one of Shepard Fairley’s street art projects on phenomenology, but a marketing campaign for indie rock band Arcade Fire’s new album, Reflektor.
While Arcade Fire has emerged as one of the biggest rock bands in the world, the band hasn’t ceased to be inventive or lost their indie roots in their marketing and music videos. In music festivals, such as FYF Fest and Outside Lands, visitors were handed a print of the symbol. A street mural was showcased in Downtown Manhattan with the numbers “9/9/9” signifying the release time for the band’s first single, “Reflektor.” Frontman, Win Butler, called the campaign a “weird art project” that quickly spread across the social media. However, it also aroused the displeasure of a Slate author’s wife to which Butler handwrote an apology.
The new single, “Reflektor,” had two music video released on the same day. The more conventional released video was shown on YouTube featuring a monochrome palette and the band wearing large plastic masks. The other one is a more ambitious and interactive collaboration with Google on the website, justareflektor.com. It works on the Chrome browser and connects to the computer’s webcam and a person’s smartphone. The band had also done an interactive video project with Google for their song “We Used to Wait” for the previous album, The Suburbs.
What’s most interesting is that as the band is relying on the spread of this viral campaign through social networking—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—while having a not so subtle technophobic stance against social media. The lyrics, “We fell in love when I was nineteen / And now we’re staring at a screen” critique the current generation’s reliance on the internet and detachment towards outside life. Perhaps these contradictory values may seem hypocritical and haphazard at the moment, but it may also reflect (no pun intended) a more ambivalent and less didactic vision of the digital age for the album. We will have to wait and see as “Reflektor” will be released on October 29.