Released today in 1984: The Reflex



Extracts from academic studies and scholarly works concerning the lyrics of The Reflex by Duran Duran:

Dr Dev Ayden-Raul (Maastricht Instituut voor Academische Studie van de Muzick): Five and the Ragged Ego: machination and coincidence in Duran Duran. (1985).

“Abstract: … Nick Rhodes’s dominance is in part derived from his longevity (he is the only person to be present throughout Duran’s various incarnations since its inception) and so accordingly, this paper argues that his influence over the development and progress of the group had induced jealousies and paranoia in the remaining members, captured in the lyrics of some of their most famous songs …

“… the titular ‘reflex’ is a masculine personification, as indicated by the use of the male pronoun throughout the song. Indeed, ‘the reflex’ is Rhodes himself, most readily identified with the line ‘He’s hiding all the cards’, a tacit acknowledgment that the other members of the band considered his control over the group at this stage in its development to be all-encompassing. It may well have occurred to them during the recording of the album that his apparent spontaneous reactions to situations where in fact carefully stage-managed …
… the two specific items mentioned are pertinent to Rhodes: the Renoir (Rhodes’s interest in art and the arts was well documented in the press at the time) and the TV set (an oblique reference to Rhodes’s photography side-line) …
… derived from a strong and resilient personality, although it may also be facilitated by a healthy respect from his colleagues (they all ‘try not to bruise’ Rhodes’s ego at the time of the recordation) …
… his ontological and philosophical discourse often left interviewers ‘answered with a question mark’ …
… it should of course be noted that Rhodes is indeed an ‘only child’, as confirmed in the line ‘the reflex is an only child’ …”

Prof Basia de Bishop (Akademia Muzyczna w Bialystok): Big Thing: Jung, Freud and the interpretation of the contemporary song lyrics of Duran Duran. (1986)

“… as we are confronted from the outset in this song, with its ejaculatory ‘fleck-fleck-fle-fle-flex’ which is revisited in the later lyric ‘finding treasure in the dark’ …
… delivers us a dichotomy: the various references throughout to delayed sexual gratification (‘You’ve gone too far this time’, ‘I’m on ride and I wanna get off but they won’t slow down the roundabout’) contrast starkly with the title of the piece, alluding as it does to the natural carnal urge. Nowhere is this contrast more evident than in the final line of the bridge (‘Buy time, don’t lose it’) which immediately gives way to the chorus’ repeated references to ‘the reflex’ itself …
… furthermore, the numerous euphemistic references to masturbation (‘I should find a helping hand’, ‘Try not to bruise it’) present an alternative to the hedonistic ethos the reflex represents with the narrator choosing ‘another day to make my stand’ (my emphasis: an archaic term for male arousal, and related to a ‘reflex’, an uncontrolled response to an external stimulant) …”

Applicant name: Charlie Blizzard (extract from entry examination paper, 1987)

“… central theme of substance abuse can be detected in the opening stanza: ‘dancing on the valentine’ is a clear metaphor for the palpitations of the heart when placed under the strain of the influence of an artificial stimulant. The desire, but inability, to return to a normal heart rate and to end the trip satisfactorily is picked up in the later lyric, ‘they won’t slow down the roundabout’ …
… the risks of injecting are candidly touched upon with the line ‘try not to bruise it’ …
… the explicit question ‘why don’t you use it’ is answered later in the lyrics with ‘I’m on a ride and I wanna get off’: this obvious reference to the addiction beginning to make itself evident at this stage in the group’s career. It is this consumption that has been attributed to the band’s partial split in 1985 …
… paranoid, dark lyrics contrasting with the energetic and upbeat musical accompaniment. The most uncomfortable moments are those dedicated to the consequences of such an expensive habit, such as ‘I sold the Renoir and the TV set’ to pay the dealer who is ‘waiting in the park’ …”
Note: examiner’s handwritten comment on candidate’s script: “Track composed on John Taylor’s 23rd birthday. Suggest band drunk when they wrote lyrics.”

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BOW WOW WOW (Annabella Lwin) See Jungle (Jungle Boy) (RCA RCA220)
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KING (Paul King) Love and Pride (CBS A4274)


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