Arcade Fire: The Suburbs

RIYL: New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, Interpol

As one who was not all ga ga over Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, I had some apprehension about the Canadian group’s third release, The Suburbs. But from the title track to the album closer, The Suburbs is sonic journey that takes the listener through an experience that’s meant to be listened to in one sitting. It’s both a nostalgic and critical exploration of growing up in a time when instant gratification in communicating with one another was less common, and a time when days and hours lingered so when dramatic events happened, the contrast was much more profound. Stylistically, the group is progressing by incorporating more jaunty musical flourishes (“Suburbs”), and they have matured with thickly layered atmospherics that, at times, highlights things like the faux intellectual walls created by certain kids (“Rococo”). While The Suburbs is a very strong and nuanced album by the band, it feels laden with too much musical filler at times – the album clocks in at 60 minutes. Perhaps in The Suburbs Arcade Fire is reacting to the Internet culture where the sense of anticipation and appreciation of communicating with one another has waned, but the sense of slowness that pervades some of the album makes their exploration of life in the suburbs less intellectually weighty than just downright weighted. (Merge 2010)

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