Thursday, August 5, 2010

Arcade Fire: Suburbs

Sometimes I Can’t Believe It/ I’m Moving Past The Feeling

The Thought hits sometime in the middle of the album. “Holy Shit they can’t keep this up can they?” How long can Arcade Fire continue to be perfect? I pull them up on I Tunes and peruse the track list of their three albums. Have they even written a bad song?... Nope. I mean sure I’ve been known to press the skip button on “In The Backseat” and “Black Wave” when taking a jog, but neither are what I would call bad, just not conducive to cardio vascular health. But probabilistically speaking, they eventually have to write a bad song don’t they? I mean Win Butler and his merry band can’t just continue to create music that fills the mind with an autumnal dread and the soul with a stirring sense of grandeur. They can’t continue to craft music that blends Springsteenian uplift and drama, with Eno era Bowie sonic ambition, and the lyrical grace and scope of Dylan at his very best, touched with a wicked sense of humor Zevon would envy. .

If The Businessmen Drink My Blood/ Like The Kids In Art School Said They Would/ Then I Guess I Will Begin Again/ You Say Can We Still Be Friends?

Can They?

Let’s Go Downtown and Watch The Modern Kids/ They’ll Eat Right Out Of Your Hand/ Using Great Big Words That They Don’t Understand

Right now the question seems tantalizingly open. If Arcade Fire keeps doing what they’re doing, they’re on track to become not merely a great rock band (they’re indisputably that already) but one of the greatest Rock bands of all time.

The Summer That I Broke My Arm I Waited For Your Letter/ I Have No Feeling For You Now That I Know You Better

This is the first time (with the possible exception of The White Stripes) that I’ve gotten the thrill of being in the midst of a Band’s career rather then coming in safely at the end. The era I grew up in wasn’t a particularly inspiring time for music. The Ambitious music I listened to where definitely of the past. Bands like The Pixies, and Nirvana were presented to me as closed loops. Bands with beginnings and definite safe ends. And lets not even get into the institutions like Floyd, The Clash, and Springsteen (Just a quick sidenote, “No Surrender” came up on my Shuffle the other day. What a great song. And its like what the seventh best on Born In The USA? The eighth? Calling him The Boss still underrates him.) Even with modern bands I admire; Modest Mouse, Tegan & Sara, and The Drive By Truckers, I arrived late to the party, with all three having already firmly established their sound by the time I first heard their music.

I Wished I Could Have Loved You/ Before Our Age Was Through/ Before A World War Does With Us/ Whatever It Will Do

My point is at this point in their career, Arcade Fire seems as if they can go anywhere. And what’s more that they just might. And they haven’t let greatestness ossify them either. Something like Suburbs sounds like what you would expect an Arcade Fire single to sound like, haunting, operatic, and lyrical. But Modern Man is basically a practical joke. Roccoco starts off as the latter then ends up the former as it slowly turns its gibberish chorus into a cathedral of sound. While tracks like Empty Rooms and Month Of May, have the low to the ground scrappiness present on the likes of Laika and Keep The Car Running. Unlike a lot of Rock bands with literary ambitions, Arcade Fire never forgets to, well rock.

Never Trust A Millionaire/ Quoting The Sermon On The Mount/ I Used To Think I Was Not Like Them/ Now I Have My Doubts

In short Suburbs is beautiful, ambitious, and most importantly whole. It’s a head phone album made like its ignorant of the fact that no one makes Head Phone Albums anymore. Undoubtably, some will find this review hyperbolic. Some will say that I’m simply setting myself up for disappointment. And the people who claim that are probably right.

“Now Our Lives Are Changing Fast/ Hope That Something Pure Can Last”

But what if they’re not?

EDIT: Small detail but an important one. The last track is built to loop into the first one for continous play. The more times I listen to the album the more convinced I am that its Fire's "Wish You Where Here"


Aaron said...

I sure wasn't expecting an Arcade Fire review on my blog roll. THanks for reviewing this. I'm glad it's a positive one. I haven't heard any of their new songs yet because I don't listen to any radio or watch any music video channels, so it's good to get some thoughts on their new album from someone who I kinda sorta know. I loved FUNERAL and NEON BIBLE, and when I saw that they have a new album out I wondered if they still had it. Now I will definitely be picking this one up.

Emily said...

Absolutely agreed, Arcade Fire are excellent.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Aaron: I've got to keep you on your toes.

@ Emily: Glad to see another fan. A friend of mine is going to see them tonight, the waves of jealously coming off of me might liquify portions of the western sea boar.