on 4 September 2010
Buying a new album from a favourite band is always a stressful process.
I purchased the album blind (or is it deaf) on the day of release and was initially disappointed as the new offering was neither a Funeral II or an appendix to the Neon Bible. Thankfully, as is often the case, a difficult initial listen normally signals future potential and the album is now a fixture of the playlist on my phone, laptop and car.
Like the other reviewers, I can hear influences from Blondie to Springsteen in addition to the common Arcade Fire "wall of sound" elements. Current favourites are the "Suburban War" and "Rococo". My only criticism would be that I would have liked to hear more vocals from Regine, who's style does some resemblance to Bjork on occasion.
The nature of Arcade Fire's music does not (in my opinion) suit 30 second previews, if you are a new to the band try to listen to a few tracks in full before deciding.
on 28 June 2011
Ignore the First review! he posted the review long before its release without any information on the final product.
YOUR GETTING A REALLY GOOD DEAL HERE!
This is definite buy for any arcade fire or any new fan whos heard any of suburbs singles so far.
Its Great Package. Firstly you get Original 16 tracks of "The Suburbs". All excellent. On top of that you get 2 new Mixes of existing tracks and 2 New Songs + A rare Demo of Sprawl 1. Culture War and Speaking Tongues are both great songs, and speaking in tongues features David Byrne of talking heads. Wasted Hours has been redone. you then get a code which allows you to download 2 more songs for free. so overall you get 20 songs on this album.
You then get a DVD of "scenes from the suburbs" by Spike Jones, Its a hipster Movie, buts its a nice fan service to arcade fire fans and accompanies the album well. then also get a making of video on how arcade fire made the album. The video for the suburbs is actually act as trailer for the Movie.
Finally you get 60 page book which includes some fine photography that looks in to the Movie and includes the images of band etc alongside a full lyrics of whole album. Was this needed? probably not but its nice feature that they added.
overall if your new to arcade fire, purchasing this album is better then purchasing the standard version. If you've already bought the excellent original your getting a lot of fan service from this album, this is more then 2 bonus tracks, its one of best deluxe versions I've seen.
on 26 April 2011
Arcade Fire are one of those rare bands capable of such consistent and effortless feats of greatness, it almost becomes too easy to take for granted.
They returned seeming to have matured, aged and developed by vastly more than the five years since the release of Funeral. The quirks and youthful rallying cries of that era-defining debut are long gone. In their place, the subtler, more restrained sound of a band nostalgic for a bygone age, and seemingly on the brink of a cultural apocalypse.
It's a concept album in the very best sense, packed with deft touches of attention-to-detail and a narrative punctuated with musical motifs. Even the artwork was a visual metaphor - eight different varieties, yet all essentially the same, just like the vast and interchangeable 'endless suburbs, stretched out thin and dead' that were once home.
Of course, the journey that begins with 'grab your mother's keys, we're leaving' packs in more than just barren, bland landscapes and 'the modern kids' who live there now. The disillusionment runs parallel with a sense of urgency at wanting to live before its too late: 'So can you understand / why I want a daughter while I'm still young? / I want to hold her hand / And show her some beauty / Before the damage is done.'
Musically there's a light and shade that makes this 16 track opus seem almost short, while avoiding the overbearing earnestness which previous album Neon Bible arguably fell into. So Sprawl I, an almost funereal lament to lost youth in which Win Butler sings of 'the loneliest day of my life', is followed by the Régine Chassagne sung Sprawl II, which - in a quite unexpected move - sounds like Blondie doing disco. Well, specifically, Heart of Glass.
An album about the inertia that exists in that gap between growing up and growing old ultimately left you feeling glad to be alive now to appreciate a once-in-a-generation brilliant band at the peak of their powers.
It's befitting of their complexity that, in making a record about the transitory nature of yesterday's values, fading childhood memories and dissolving landscapes, Arcade Fire produced a work destined for lasting greatness.
After the brilliance of their debut Funeral, Arcade Fire seemed to be in danger of never being able to match it. It was so good, the second album was almost inevitably going to fall short. Neon Bible was never less than good, and had its great moments (No Cars Go, Intervention, Windowsill) but seemed to be hinting at heading in a U2 style direction of preachy bombast, and suggested they might ultimately become just another 'big' stadium band. Which makes the varied and expanded musical palate of The Suburbs all the more welcome. It is an outstanding piece of work which shows just what a great band this is.
Unlike either of the first 2 albums, this one got me on first listen, and has been getting better and better ever since. A month on repeat on my car cd player has not detracted from its sustained excellence. 16 tracks could be insufferable from a less interesting band(and could be regarded as commercial suicide in the age of the ipod shuffle), but here it ensures there is so much to discover that it takes weeks to get at all tired of it. I don't think I have ever heard an album of this length without a single bad track (Rococo is the only one I sometimes skip) and where you don't want to pick out favourites, but play the whole thing.
Of course it helps that there is a continuity of theme and lyrics throughout the album, as was the case with Funeral, but here more so, with repeated lines and themes turning up in different songs connecting the whole thing and giving the album a circularity and feeling that this is a piece of work in several parts, not just a collection of songs. But there is also a variety of styles here that the band has not previously explored, from the punky Month of May to the electro pop of Sprawl 2. Overall it is more restarined and low key without so much of the massive crescendos we are used to hearing from them, but with more subtlety and layers to discover. Some of my personal favourites include the 2 Half Light tracks, which are both beautifully atmospheric and evocative, and sound like nothing they have done before; Suburban War which slowly builds momentum and emotion, and contains the great lines 'now the cities we live in could be distant stars/ and I search for you in every passing car'; and City With No Children with its irresistable repeated riff.
Lyrically and vocally its easily Win Butler's best effort, gone are the occasinally clunky rhymes and in its place is maturity of voice and songcraft. Regine, who was a little in the background on Neon Bible also sounds great on lead vocals on Empty Rooms and Sprawl 2, and the two of them duet to great effect on Half Light 1.
The Suburbs sounds more like a sequel to Funeral than NB did, both musically and with its themes of neighbourhood and growing up, but it also shows Arcade Fire have moved on from Funeral, expanded their range, and matured with new subtleties and nuances, whilst living up to the promise of their debut. A briliantly crafted record from a band in a league of their own.
on 21 February 2011
I remember reading a review when i first bought this album that said that this album was their masterpiece and was arguably better than ok computer, reading that i thought oh my god you can't be serious and I have to be honest I didn't think I'd ever come to liking it as much as I like it now as now it is one of the best albums I have ever heard. On first listen the album sounds very dull but with repeated listens the album finally begins to fall into place. Another thing about this album is that there are no real songs which stand out but as a whole the album just sounds amazing. This album I would now say is definitely their masterpiece if I had to give it to one of their albums but I do love funeral and Neon bible aswell, funeral also being one of my favourite albums but this one beats it all over in my opinion and I would say it is just as good as some of the latter Radiohead albums although not better than Ok Computer as that is my favourite album of all time but this album is not that far off. The Suburbs is a must for music fans.
on 3 November 2010
It is an incredibly difficult achievement to write 3 albums, each with a distinct feel to it, while retaining a band's integral sound. Yet that is exactly what Arcade Fire have done with The Suburbs. You could pick any track and know that it doesn't fit into either Funeral or Neon Bible, yet it is very clearly an Arcade Fire song. Within the album itself, there is a wide range of styles, yet that does detract from its cohesiveness. The outstanding track both musically and lyrically has to be Month of May, though this does not take anything away from the other songs. So far, it is my favourite album of 2010.
on 25 July 2014
The vinyl packaging for this album is absolutely beautiful and the sound quality doesn't disappoint either. The vinyl release does however feature a slightly different tracklisting to the CD and digital release and if I'm quite honest, I prefer the CD/Digital tracklisting but it's really a very minor complaint. The inner sleeves are beautifully featuring what appear to be handwritten lyrics and credits and the full colour artwork on the double gatefold sleeve is truly wonderful. Probably Arcade Fire's greatest work (although Reflektor wasn't half bad), and if you like indie rock concept albums, I'd consider picking it up. It's hard to really define the genre for Arcade Fire because they get inspiration from so many different places. I'd consider listening to the songs Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), Ready to Start, City With No Children and Half Light II (No Celebration). If you enjoy those, you're likely to enjoy the whole album and I really would consider picking it up. Also, it's 17 tracks long, so it's definitely value for money.
Arcade Fire has dropped out of sight in the last several months, so it's nice to see this insanely talented band make their grand reappearance. And their third album "The Suburbs" is a rich, retro-flavored expanse of truly transcendent music -- it starts off rather patchily, but soon it becomes a melodic hurricane of shimmering rock'n'roll.
It starts off rather weakly with the title track, a rather bland piano-rocker. But things pick up with "Ready to Start," which spins shimmering threads of keyboard around gritty earthy chords ("Businessmen drink my blood/Like the kids in art school said they would"). Honestly, this would have made a much better start to the album.
And it sets the tone for the rest of the album -- meandering, bluesy rock'n'roll ("Modern Man," "Month of May"), the stormy stretches of warbling keyboard and ringing guitars ("Rococo," "Wasted Hours"), bittersweet guitar-pop ("Suburban War"), the elegant driving rock anthems ("Empty Rooms," "We Used To Wait"), and languid indiepop around a catchy core ("City with No Children").
The best songs of all are the two-part experimental ones: "Half Light Part I" is an exquisite twinkling little melody, and "Part II" is its darkly glittering counterpoint; on the other hand, "Sprawl (Flatland)" is a string-soaked, bittersweet song, with "Sprawl (Mountains Beyond Mountains" as its discoish companion.
Apparently the central theme of "The Suburbs" is urban sprawl... which is not exactly a unique concept. But the Arcade Fire doesn't just explore the sprawl of suburbia with its "dead shopping malls" and lonely houses, but the loneliness of growing into adulthood and the life of an artist surrounded by "normal" people.
As for the instrumentation, it's a little less indiepop and a little more rock'n'roll -- strong, shifting electric guitars and powerful chords, veiled with shimmering keyboard, strings and piano. And they throw in some brilliant flourishes here and there (the berserk strings in "Empty Room"). At the center of all this is Win Butler and Régine Chassagne -- his falsetto voice murmurs through most of the songs, but is sometimes accompanied by her clear sweet one.
And their brilliant lyrical skills are evident in every song -- there are some wicked bits of satire ("They seem wild but they are so tame/They're moving towards you with their colors all the same" -- take that, hipsters!), and exquisite lyricism ("Now the cities we live in could be distant stars/And I searched for you in every passing car").
The Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" takes a little while to fully warm up, but it ends up being a lonely, bittersweet exploration of an artist's life in suburbia. Brilliance with a couple of lackluster moments.
on 12 September 2010
So on paper, perhaps the idea of a kind of four part concept album about the suburbs would take some selling. But this actually works very well. Apparently inspired by a homecoming trip Win & Will Butler made back to The Woodlands, their childhood 'planned community' home, it deals with the hopes, fears & feelings of young people trapped in this environment & their (semi!) detached views on life now. I can relate to this as I'm sure most non city dwelling youths can. The songs hang together well often blending from one to another creating the seemless, movement type feel to the whole piece. The bands energy - phenomenal live - comes over here too & the songs are well written even adventuring off into weird time signatures. My only minor critism as on Neon Bible are the songs fronted by Régine Chassagne. For my taste her voice is not yet strong enough to carry a song, but that has noticably improved. This band moves on & so far has not delivered anything 'samey', which can only be a good thing right?
on 28 June 2014
Some albums sound very good the first time that you hear them, while others grow on you after several listens. Very few albums do both, and this is one of them.
I have been buying albums and listening to music of all kinds for about 45 years and this album is among the best (within its genre) that I have ever heard. I don't normally write reviews, but I felt that I had to give praise where it is due in this case.