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Released: Aug 2, 2010
Genre: Indie rock
Label: Merge (US)/ Mercury (UK)
Number Of Tracks: 16
Arcade Fire have brought so much to the Indie Rock table as it is, it is almost a sure fire deal that they'll stumble along the way.
thenirve, on august 13, 2010 3 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: Arcade Fire have brought so much to the Indie Rock table as it is, it is almost a sure fire deal that they'll stumble along the way. But that is not the case here. Their third installation in the canon that is Arcade Fire, they take it to the halls. The sound on The Suburbs is absolutely astonishing. It has this certain ambiance to it while still being very aware. The sound is huge, almost brainwashing in it's genius. I am absolutely in love with their album and the band in general. It's predecessors Neon Bible (2007) and Funeral (2004) are flawless and of grandiose value, and The Suburbs is no exception. There are no words for a band and an album like this, the mass that they achieve on their albums and on stage are untouchable. This band has come a long way and will continue to evolve in ways we don't care to imagine. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics on The Suburbs are very much in line with Indie music nowadays. Arcade Fire are veterans when it comes to uniform lyricism, and that is where I truly fall for them. The Suburbs is exactly what it says it is: an album about growing up in the suburbs. Maybe this album hits home to me because I was once a Suburb kid, but even for the city dwellers out there this album can be relative to you. The lyrics on The Suburbs come right out even on a first listen "Sometimes I can't believe it....I'm moving past the feeling."
And as far as Win Butler's ability as a singer, he's flawless! The ability of the whole band as far as vocal abilities go, they have no problem in that area. Regine Chassagne's vocal abilities are broad as well. On Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) she takes the vocal reigns and steers right into an 80's alternative underground Blondie-esque delicate sound, while also blending a 21st century beat to keep the Indie in the sound. // 10
Overall Impression: The album The Suburbs, in my opinion, may be the best album to come out this year. Not because it is the most listen able as far as the singles and the individual songs go, but because of the ease of listening to the whole album. That is the nature of Arcade Fire. I cannot pick the best and worst songs on the album, so I have rated every song according to how it flows when cued up in the natural rhythm of the album:
01. The Suburbs - 8/10
02. Ready To Start - 8/10
03. Modern Man - 10/10
04. Rococo - 8/10
05. Empty Room - 8/10
06. City With No Children - 10/10
07. Half Light I - 7/10
08. Half Light II (No Celebration) - 8/10
09. Suburban War - 10/10
10. Month Of May - 9/10
11. Wasted Hours - 8/10
12. Deep Blue - 7/10
13. We Used to Wait - 10/10
14. Sprawl I (Flatland) - 8/10
15. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) - 7/10
16. The Suburbs (Continued) - 9/10
Like I said before, it may not seem like I rate this album at a 10/10. But Single songs are not what make an album an album to me. It is the sound of the album, the consistency as well as the diversity of the album, it's feel, how well the songs flow, and the overall passion behind the music. I even take into account the artwork and booklet when it comes to rating music. And I can honestly say that this album is a 10/10. Perfect. Along with The National's High Violet, I don't foresee any contenders in the album of the year slot for 2010. // 10
mattybou92, on august 05, 2011 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: A year has gone by since the release of Arcade Fire's sprawling Grammy-winning album "The Suburbs" hit the shelves. Instantly hailed as yet another masterpiece by the Canadian-based indie rock band, the album also sold incredibly well, peaking at No.1 on both the US and the UK charts. There's little denying that Arcade Fire has "made it". Between their ambitious live shows and fierce promotion, Win Butler has guided the band to exponential growth that will eventually have to come to an end. Hopefully, "The Suburbs" does not make the end of an amazing spree of three brilliant albums.
The album, being 16 tracks long, begs to be taken seriously as an album in full. The concept is simple, yet the music and lyrics add countless layers to the overall nostalgic sound. The CD/Digital version sounds exactly the same as the vinyl because it was recorded from a vinyl copy. Memory and time are key players in the band's new sound as opposed to the very modern, dark mess that is "Neon Bible", the band's second masterpiece, and my personal favorite.
The album starts at mid-pace with the title track. It's the following song, "Ready To Start", where the band comes into full form. Trying to describe the nostalgic sound evoked in the first half of the album is difficult even for a musicologist. The obvious influences seem to be the young Neil Young as well as the more experimental side of Fleetwood Mac. Yet, the band adds small dashes of keyboards as well as full orchestration. The vocals aren't front and center, yet the lyrics are still audible. Perhaps it is the lack of programmed rhythms or autotune, but I feel the sound goes deeper than the obvious indicators of today's pop music. Not that the album is a complete mess of sound at all. In fact, most of the tracks seem very organized with precise arrangements. An exception is the exceptional "Month Of May" which is about as punk sounding as they've ever been, recalling grunge bands in the 90's, and yet not sounding anything like Nirvana at all.
Their sound is solid, but open to changes. While some tracks do become slightly monotonous at times, the band certainly knows a thing or two about dramatic emphasis. The use of Regine on "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" is stunningly effective as the album begins to close. It's not that Win Butler becomes annoying, but the effective use of Regine is one of the album's many highlights. // 10
Lyrics: As much as the sound aids in the album's nostalgia, it's pretty difficult to miss what the lyrics are conveying throughout the album. "No Cars Go" from "Neon Bible" displayed a similar dissatisfaction with the sprawling mess that has become commercialism and expansionism. "Windowsill" from the same album speaks about not wanting to live "with my father's debt" or wanting it "fast or free". "The Suburbs" presents itself as a 16-track sequel to these songs in particular, yet never ceases to bore or sound whiny.
The furthest distance one can walk in America without hitting a road is less than 40 miles. And that number is quite the outlier compared to the other distances. The album reads almost as a protest album against the current mindset of today's society.
Yet, the album's seemingly largest words of wisdom come from "We Used To Wait", a reflective, slightly pessimistic look on today's instant gratification:
"I used to write
I used to write letters I used to sign my name
I used to sleep at night
Before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain
But by the time we met
By the time we met the times had already changed
So I never wrote a letter
I never took my true heart I never wrote it down
So when the lights cut out
I was left standing in the wilderness downtown"
It's commentary can be applied practically everywhere, yet the argument arises of human flexibility. Aren't we able to handle all this change, no matter how fast it is? Win Butler seems to argue that we are losing empathy for or fellow man amidst all the pleasures in life. French philosopher Simone Weil lived her life believing in the power of affliction, and why suffering is important to understanding humanity. Too deep? I'm not entirely sure. Yet, the album doesn't just complain about the present by evoking the past, it also celebrates the past, especially childhood. Regine's "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" is a gorgeous song with a touch of pain, yet bliss in the knowledge of it.
"We rode our bikes to the nearest park
Sat under the swings and kissed in the dark
You shield my eyes from the police lights
We run away, but we don't know why
Black river, your city lights shine
They're screaming at us: "We don't need your kind!"
Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small
That we can never get away from the sprawl!
Living in the sprawl, dead shopping malls rise
Like mountains beyond mountains
And there's no end in sight
I need the darkness. Someone, please cut the lights!"
The album becomes very personal in its insight, yet its application is universal. We've all had to 'grow up' and we all have memories of our childhood and the places we grew up in. Win Butler strives for empathy, and "The Suburbs" universal themes of childhood, nostalgia, and social commentary are able to connect with a wide range of diverse people. // 10
Overall Impression: Ambitious? Oh, yes. But not pretentious, at least by my standards. While "Funeral" dealt with death and the odd memories that remain, "The Suburbs" feelings more physical, rooted in the tangible details of our childhoods. The lyrics talk about revisiting aged hometowns and how everything is changing very quickly.
Personally, I feel the album has its share of a few fillers that may or may not register with everybody. The album is up for interpretation after a year and always will be. Yet, its ability to connect with diverse groups of people will hopefully make the album a classic in years to come. The music video for "We Used To Wait" is a prime example of how interactive music and film can be. Check it out at http://thewildernessdowntown.com/
Thanks for reading, hope you're doing alright. // 10