Tuesday, July 27, 2010

record review: Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Imagine spending hours constructing an elaborate path of dominos, winding yard upon yard in various loops and shapes. Now imagine a small crack in your window—letting in just the slightest breeze from the clear skies above. It’s May. The silence of the sunny afternoon spent in solitude has enveloped your being and you have become content with the inactivity of your surroundings.

Out of nowhere, a lightning bolt strikes. There is no storm. Just a single, vicious jolt of electricity directed exactly at the tiny fenestration in your wall.

There go your dominos. There goes your silence. There goes your ease.

Now let’s give this lightning a name.
The Suburbs.

There are a lot of words that my mind associates with Arcade Fire. Full, orchestral, baroque, warm, communal. On their third album, however, the band reinvents itself into a fascinating combination of apocalyptic and gothic. I hear “Ready to Start” and I think of Robert Smith. “Rococo” sounds exactly like its title: creepy, Romantic-era horror story, complete with spine tingling violins and layers of echos and repetition. The band falters when it emulates U2 (“City With No Children”; “Half Light II”) but quickly redeems itself with the snarkiness of “Month of May”, a song that cleverly juxtaposes urgent guitars with lyrics lamenting the prolonged difficulty of the songwriting process. But nothing compares with the menacing rawness of “Deep Blue”, a song that captures the band’s warnings about suburban complacency with frightening precision.

Highly recommended.

The Suburbs drops next Tuesday, 3 August

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