Friday, August 6, 2010

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

I always find it amazing when fans start to turn on a band because they get popular. People from every corner who were indifferent to a band before now suddenly despise them, they call them sell-outs who are undeserving of their popularity. Most recently, Kings of Leon sold out. Hard. They were a Tennessee loose-cannon rock and roll group with blazing memorable guitar riffs that deliberately changed their sound to appeal to a wider-audience. Sure, every band wants to sell records but that doesn't mean they have to trade in their integrity to do so.
Now people are trying to say Arcade Fire have done the same thing. That's where I have to put my foot down. Arcade Fire are one of the few bands around that has gained massive appeal without having to compromise themselves. Funeral, Neon Bible, and The Suburbs all compliment each other quite nicely. One argument the naysayers have is that The Suburbs is nowhere near as good as Funeral. Well no shit. Funeral is one of those one-in-a-lifetime kind of records, an album that years from now people will dig out of their record collections show to their kids and say "I was there." It's silly to hold a band to those kind of standards, because they can do nothing but fail.
The Suburbs is in no way a masterpiece, and there is a handful of songs that are worth forgetting, but for the majority of its duration it's a solid collection. Whereas Neon Bible was this outward bombastic album, The Suburbs finds the band in a suppressed introverted state waiting to burst. Frontman Win Butler is not content with the monotony of living in the suburbs and many of these songs "We Used to Wait" "The Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" give off the desire of breaking free. This alternate universe that Butler has created it is not a pretty site. "City With No Children" paints a very dire picture masked with hand-clapping and a Kieth Richards sounding guitar lick. Even when the band is able to escape The Suburbs the urban life offers no better solutions. "Rococo" is not only an infectious song that will bury itself in your brain, but it is an attack on the self-congratulatory entitled hipsters. "Let's go downtown and talk to the modern kids They will eat right out of your hand Using great big words that they don't understand." It takes a lot of guts to criticize a group of people that are most likely your fans, but is their attack justified? This writer believes so.
Would I say that The Suburbs is going to end up on my top ten list? Probably not. Top 20? You bet, but who knows it has only been a week and this record could grow on me immensely. Arcade Fire are one of the defining bands of the current indie era whether you like it or not. They are a shining example of how bands have departed from guitar-laden solo-swapping songs of the past and now focus on the album as a whole, both emotionally and texturally. The Suburbs, keeping in line with their previous two records is at its core a highly emotional album, which ultimately is what makes it a success.

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