Arcade Fire

The Suburbs

Written by: TL on 08/10/2010 18:08:49

With two brilliant albums under their belt and a reputation more extensive than most bands can boast of, Arcade Fire have long resided in the upper echelons of the hierarchy of bands I have structured in my mind. So of course, I've been looking forward to their third LP quite a bit, with lofty expectations firmly set.

Unfortunately - oh yes I'm giving this up straight away - "The Suburbs" falls somewhat short of meeting such expectations. You see, for the first long while I was listening to it, my impression was that while Arcade Fire sounded by and large the same as always, their new record was completely void of stand-out moments. Fans will know what I'm talking about. "Wake Up", "Rebellion", "Keep The Car Running", "(Anti-Christ Television Blues)" - all of those were songs that elevated the band's quirky indie sound to sweeping heights, electrifying the listener and encouraging him to dive into the remaining tracks on each album. Those, as far as I can hear, have no parallels here on "The Suburbs".

However, as time has gone by, and more listens have been granted when I'd been in the mood for something unobtrusive, I must admit that this is more a question of how short, not how far, the mighty have fallen. You see while "The Suburbs" feels more homogeneous than its predecessors, it seems easily the most intricately composed effort from the band to this date. The thing is that all the details weave themselves into the sound so seamlessly that you might not notice. At first I felt like the entire album floated by at medium pace, but songs like "Ready To Start" and "Empty Room" are actually up-beat, and there is in fact plenty of variety to be found in that department. Among other things to appreciate are also the floating electronic notes of the two parts of "Half Light", which brings to mind classic western films and set a nice mood.

So yeah, Arcade Fire have not suddenly become an ordinary band, in fact the level of texture and intricacy on offer in "The Suburbs" is absolutely out of the ordinary. That being said however, I still feel like more could have been done to get the listener truly excited just every once in a while. Songs like "Rebellion" and "Keep The Car Running" would make listeners raise their head and feel like moving every time they were heard, but for its (rather long) duration, "The Suburbs" seems content with providing music that most will find best as a rich, yet casual backdrop for some relaxed (and maybe contemplative) activity. What I'm saying is I guess, that this is more one to float away in than one to ride attentively to the end, an observation based in the fact that my own attention certainly tends to go wandering halfway through the album. Long story short, this is a really rich record which will easily stand out as something to appreciate, especially to the patient and attentive listener, but the truth for me is, that both The National and Wolf Parade have released similar records this year, from which there were songs that held my attention more firmly than those on "The Suburbs".


Download: Ready To Start, The Suburbs, Rococo
For The Fans Of: Wolf Parade, The National, The Decemberists, Modest Mouse

Release Date 02.08.2010
Merge Records

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