First look at Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs”

One of the many "Suburbs" covers

Perhaps you have heard of a little canadian band called “Arcade Fire”. Well, I don’t know if you have, but they’re kind of a big deal. Like, they made the best album of the past decade (sorry, Radiohead), and with only 2 albums (very soon to be 3) they have positioned themselves as one of the most prominent and important bands in the indie world. You might have noticed that I like them a lot, and it’s a weird relationship the one with me and Arcade Fire. I like them a lot, every month or so I’ll spin Funeral around and think “Holy shit, I love these guys!”. And then I don’t listen to them in a while. And then I take out Funeral for a ride again. And then I listen to a little Neon Bible and think “Shit, this album is very underrated. I love it.”. But then it goes back on the shelf (or the hard drive, whatevs). I noticed recently that Arcade Fire and Wilco are the only bands that are always on my rotation. That’s because they’re very good, and they age well; they never really get old.

And so I was very excited when I heard that Win Butler was cooking up a new album this year, and then it got a name and then a few songs came out along with a few covers. Yeah, apparently this album has a bunch of alternative covers. I saw about 8 today, and they all have that car that you can see up there, but with a different scenery. And I like all of them a lot, they make me feel calm. I want to print all of them and put them in my room so that I’m always chill. I might even do it.
Month of May and The Suburbs came out first. I loved them. I played the shit out of them, especially The Suburbs. It felt like a depart from the stuff they’d done before. Then a few more songs came out, and then live versions of new songs. I didn’t listen to them. I did not want to spoil the album for me. Until this weekend.

The Suburbs is supposed to come out in a few weeks, but yesterday a transcode of it leaked. I couldn’t resist, it was inevitable. This morning I got my hands on a leaked copy, uploaded it to my personal portable music player machine (some call it “iPod”) and took it out to the Parque de Chapultepec for a run. Then I got hurt and decided to go home, but then I got lost while trying to find an empty cab. In my defense, I’m in the biggest (and meanest) city of the world while being a complete stranger to it (no, I don’t live here). I walked for more than an hour with a hurt leg in one of the richest residence zones of the city. I could have been worse, but of course there’s not gonna be any taxis in a zone where everybody is driving +$100k cars. Then it started raining. But it was good, I had in my company one of the best, if not the best album of the year. It was so soft, so calm and nice. There’s no urgency in it, there’s no Neighborhood #3 or Antichrist Television Blues. There’s no highly emotive anthem moments, no Wake Up or Neighborhood #1. No brilliant breakdowns like Crown of Love. This album just flows. It’s relaxed and realistic. There’s feelings of youth plasmed here. It’s art. It doesn’t need any big lights and flashes to prove it’s brilliancy.

And there’s no weird song structures here. It’s very simple and conventional, you can easily detect all the instruments being played at any given time in the album, unlike Arcade’s previous stuff. By the time I got to the album’s slower songs Sprawl 1 and 2 I had already found a main avenue and a cab, and the taxi driver was telling me about everything that was going wrong with his life, to the point he started crying and he had to stop. The rest of the ride was uncomfortably quiet. I didn’t know what to say. His 8 year old niece had been raped and his daughter had died. He had lost his job and only had a couple hours left in it, he had no money and no job. And there I was, listening to the sentimental lines of The Suburbs‘ ending songs. They fit right in the moment. I finally got home, while the continuation of the opener song The Suburbs was playing. Already on my first listen I was loving this album. I probably listened to it about 5 times today. It is kind of long but I’d rather have all this songs than never hearing about them ever.

Favorites right now are The Suburbs, Ready to Start, Half Light II, Suburban Wars and especially We Used To Wait.

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2 responses to “First look at Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs”

  1. Pingback: Spoon in retrospective: Girls Can Tell and early projects | The Strangulation

  2. Pingback: Arcade Fire In Retrospective (Part 2): Neon Bible | The Strangulation

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