Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Arcade Fire: The Suburbs

If you haven't already heard about Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, then try displacing the rock under which you've been living.  This album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, which, to my recollection, may be the first time an indie album has debuted (or even reached) number one on the charts.  There have certainly been plenty of deserving records that never reached that mark, but this album has earned its success.

The buzz surrounding Arcade Fire has been building for the better part of a decade, but that buzz reached a near-deafening peak when Funeral, Arcade Fire's full-length debut, tied Radiohead's Kid A for most appearances in top ten lists outlining the best albums of the past decade.  It seems likely that Suburbs will be the most widely recognized best album of 2010.

Suburbs is about exactly what its title suggests.  It's almost a concept album of sorts, an on-again off-again love/hate affair with the suburbs (in which lead singer Win Butler grew up), with buoys of nostalgia and sentimentalism in a sea of frustration and disappointment.  I grew up in a rural area, so the subject matter doesn't really have much of an emotional affect, but I appreciate its approach (as opposed to one of last year's concept albums).

What Suburbs lacks in the angst-inspired choral shouting of Funeral, it possesses in cleverness and a mature sound of a band that continues to develop its sound.  In an age of instant communication (texting, twitter, etc.), Butler nails the now-ancient anticipation of waiting for the mail:

Grade: A
Blurb: This is absolutely one of the year's best albums.  It's worth the time it takes to grow on you.

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