New Music: Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

It's kind of hard to believe that this is only the third album from Arcade Fire. Like them or not the band has shown that they are without a doubt one of the most important bands around right now. With the release this week of their third album, The Suburbs, they've also proven that they deserve that moniker.

The Suburbs has a feel of a concept album, with the central theme deriving from Win and Will Butlers upbringing in the suburbs of Houston. It's a lazy label to say an album is a "grower" but there's really no other way for me to describe it. On my first few listens, I wasn't too impressed. I was looking to be knocked over by something as powerful as 'No Cars Go' or 'Rebellion' and to be honest, that's just not there on The Suburbs. The only time the band gets close to the now stereotypical Arcade Fire of banging drums and epic swells is 'Rococo'. While that's a great track, it's proof that the band is still able to carry an entire album without those epic single songs.

One of the best things about The Suburbs is Regine's vocals. On the first two albums the songs where she sang the lead were in many cases the weakest tracks. Not here though, 'Empty Room' and 'Sprawl II' are two of the best songs on the album and it's largely due to Regine. 'Sprawl II' sounds like Arcade Fire's first attempt at electro-pop, and they pull it off.

There are a ton of really great songs though...'City With No Children' rides on one of the cooler sounding guitar riffs I've heard in a minute. 'Suburban War' is a slow burner with an intense ending that will probably be a great live tune. Really, there might have been one or two tracks that could have been cut, but all of it holds up after multiple listens.

A journalist made a bad comparison that The Suburbs was better than OK Computer and that's not fair to any band, even Arcade Fire. Someone replied to that claim and said it's not necessarily better than OK Computer, but you could certainly say that it's Arcade Fire's OK Computer. I think that's not too far off.

If you haven't read it elsewhere, the band is broadcasting their show at Madison Square Garden in NYC tomorrow night live on the interwebs. You can watch it HERE beginning at 9:00 PM CST.


1 comment:

Poindexter said...

Matt, I agree with everything you've said here. If this isn't a concept album, I don't what is. These are very well written songs. Taking nothing away from their debut (Funeral) and sophmore effort (Neon Bible), but 'Suburbs' stands alone. In the sense that it is an almost re-invention of themselves. For me, this is the first album by AF that feels like an American record by them. Again, taking nothing away from members French-Canadian roots. We all love the Great White North here. Like Matt said, labeling this a "grower" is a lazy way to describe this album. However, it does get better after every listen. I'm not going to sit here and say this is their best album to date. Although it very well could be. Time will tell. So kudos Arcade Fire. Just one thing.... please don't make us wait another 3years to hear from you. My only complaint.