Arcade Fire – The Suburbs Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

“Ready to Start”

It has been 6 years since the release of Funeral, a record that propelled a virtually unknown Canadian band into the warm reaches of Indie Rock Valhalla. Their follow up, Neon Bible, while not receiving every single accolade possible, was also greeted with huge success.  As local prophecy states, the time has come for the next solar eclipse, a blood sacrifice and the release of Arcade Fire’s third album.

It is strange to review a product which most people have already assumed will be decent if not phenomenal.  In fact, the expectations for Arcade Fire albums are so astronomical; it is almost baffling how they manage to exceed these goals. This assessment comes not from a lifetime fan but a casual observer more perplexed with this bands continual journey through the intersection between art and popular music.

“We Used to Wait”

The Suburbs is centered on the thoughts and experiences of suburban life. This album, along with previous efforts, resembles a concept record but is more strung together by similar themes and sequential song titles. The Americana influence on this record continues to play a central role as it did with their earlier records. In fact, the heartland influence on The Suburbs radiates a feeling that is more natural, and possibly achieves greater success, than Neon Bible. While lush orchestration and electric riffs still populate this world, the Suburbs differs the most from Neon Bible in its exodus from art house theaters into the living rooms of Middle America.

Everything on the Suburbs comes with ease and feels like the only logical choice. Never once does this record feel contrived or content to rest on previous laurels. “The Sprawl,” “Wasted Hours” and “Rococo” open new windows into a world constructed out of beauty and heart wrenching sadness.  Perhaps my personal acclaim for this album comes from Arcades Fire’s ability to include everything I adore into one record. (Varying album covers, segmented serial tracks and a twin track which opens and closes the album) If Arcade Fire was trying to impress me with The Suburbs; they have done a spectacular job.

Anyone who grew up in a small town has probably thought of making a fantasy album exposing the boredom and tension of suburban life. Well, this is that album — only made from the perspective of matured adults rather than teenagers brimming with angst. There are no ominous forces at work in Arcade Fire’s Suburbs. There is no greater force pushing for conformity and suppressing individuality. There is nothing harmful nor anything worth mentioning. The Suburbs, according to the Arcade Fire, seems like a reasonable place to live.

Because there is literally nothing to work with, the drama of the Suburbs comes from the imaginations and perceptions of the album’s nameless protagonists. Nothing happens but everything is happening at once. There is adventure, tension and terror among manicured lawns and shopping malls. The Suburbs is fantastical in its depiction of small town life. The obvious pessimism and disdain is costumed in extravagant narratives. The true charm of the Suburbs is not its ability to construct surreal vignettes in a world wrought with normalcy but how well it uses those already treaded concepts. Making an album bitching about small town life is nothing new. Making that same album amazing is worth mentioning.

Arcade Fire. The Suburbs Tracklist:

The Suburbs
Ready to Start
Modern Man
Empty Room
City With No Children
Half Light I
Half Light II (No Celebration)
Month of May
Wasted Hours
Deep Blue
We Used to Wait
Sprawl I (Flatlands)
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Suburban War
The Suburbs (Continued)

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs, reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2010-08-03T11:41:24-07:00 rating 4.5 out of 5

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