Sunday, August 15, 2010

ALBUM REVIEW : Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

How do I review a maximally hyped album by a critically and mass-adored band? All I can do is go about it from my own perspective and add to the loud, enthusiastic chorus singing equally the band's praises and along to the anthemic choruses of "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Wake Up."

Montreal's Arcade Fire released their third full-length album The Suburbs after months of rumbling hype and great personal excitement. I had no doubt that this internationally successful, critically acclaimed septet (or more depending on the show) would release the must-hear album of 2010. And since August 2, everything changed... Arcade Fire has managed, in one fell swoop, to unite the independent with mainstream and soaring artistic vision with financial success, debuting at #1 for Canada, the US and UK charts. It can be done, folks!

The album's conceptualizations of modern suburban life, its comforts, frustrations, nostalgia and yearnings, has spoken deeply into my own life as I transition between the suburban life of my teenage years into the wary understanding that in more ways than one, that age cannot be sustained. Alternately, the suburbs are a womb, a launch pad, a conformity factory, and a source of inspiration. It's at once something you hotly pursue and something you fall back into. To say that Arcade Fire has written a concept album about the evils of suburban life is to simplify the complexity of the human experience... Even as the album opens with the bombs and screams of rebellion, Win and Regine closes with a fading call and response, "if I could have it back / all the time that we wasted / I'd only waste it again... and again and again." For the rebellion is not solitary, it's one spent with you.

It's not only the lyrical content that's thematic; the pulsing and restrained instrumentation take the words to soaring heights. The sonic control that the band demonstrate on The Suburbs shows, appropriately, that they've grown up. "Ready to Start" hesitates; the chorus is delayed for several verses before bursting into the titular line. The consistent offbeat kick drum in "Modern Man" verbalizes the stuttering-esque attempts by the song's character to elaborate on his feelings, like a "record that's skipping" and "clock that's ticking." The incredibly subdued "Rococo," whether referring to 18th century French art and interior design style or a 1970's prog band, has the eeriest and catchiest trisyllabic chorus that you'll hear for a long time. And for all the talk of revolution, it's not angry guitar wails that pierce through the monotony, but a sparkling, shimmering dance anthem named "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" -- the undeniable stand out track of a sparkling, shimmery bunch. At a hefty 16 tracks, The Suburbs offers a strong 65-ish minutes of exploration and innovation with more than occasional bursts of brilliance.

So by this point, if you're bewildered by this rabid devotion and hype and have yet to experience it for yourself, let me introduce to you -- my favourite band, my friends' favourite band, my ex-boyfriend's favourite band, your favourite band's favourite band, and the biggest band on earth right now -- Arcade Fire.

Upcoming tour dates - US, Canada, Mexico, Europe (w/ Calexico supporting except LA and Big Sur dates):

Leeds Festival - Leeds, UK - Fri 27th Aug 2010
Reading Festival - Reading, UK - Sat 28th Aug 2010
Rock En Seine - Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, France - Sun 29th Aug 2010
Tempodrom - Berlin, Germany - Tue 31st Aug 2010
Arena Parco Nord - Bologna, Italy - Thu 2nd Sep 2010
Roy Wilkins Auditorium - St. Paul, USA - Wed 22nd Sep 2010
MTS Centre - Winnipeg, Canada - Thu 23rd Sep 2010
Credit Union Centre - Saskatoon, Canada - Sat 25th Sep 2010
Stampede Corral - Calgary, Canada - Sun 26th Sep 2010
Pacific Coliseum - Vancouver, Canada - Tue 28th Sep 2010
Key Arena - Seattle, USA - Wed 29th Sep 2010
Memorial Coliseum - Portland, USA - Thu 30th Sep 2010
Greek Theatre - Berkley, USA - Sat 2nd Oct 2010
Henry Miller Library - Big Sur, USA - Tue 5th Oct 2010
Shrine Auditorium - Los Angeles, USA - Thu 7th Oct 2010
Shrine Auditorium - Los Angeles, USA - Fri 8th Oct 2010
Palacio De Los Deportes - Mexico City, Mexico - Sun 10th Oct 2010
Banamex Theatre - Monterrey, Mexico - Tue 12th Oct 2010
Atlantica Pavilion - Lisbon, Portugal - Thu 18th Nov 2010
Palacio de Deportes - Madrid, Spain - Sat 20th Nov 2010
Palau Sant Jordi - Barcelona, Spain - Sun 21st Nov 2010
Le Dome - Marseille, France - Wed 24th Nov 2010
Halle Tony Garnier - Lyon, France - Fri 26th Nov 2010
Zenith - Munich, Germany - Sun 28th Nov 2010
Philipshalle - Dusseldorf, Germany - Mon 29th Nov 2010
O2 Arena - London, UK - Wed 1st Dec 2010
O2 Arena - London, UK - Thu 2nd Dec 2010
Birmingham LG Arena - Birmingham, UK - Wed 8th Dec 2010
Cardiff International Arena (CIA) - Cardiff, UK - Thu 9th Dec 2010
Manchester Central - Manchester, UK - Sat 11th Dec 2010
SECC - Glasgow, UK - Sun 12th Dec 2010