Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Butler did it - Arcade Fire strikes again

Genre: Indie Rock
Merge Records
Running Time: 64:07

Montreal’s Arcade Fire have been turning heads in the indie scene since the release of their 2004 debut, Funeral. Led by guitarist Win Butler, the band aims for even wider recognition with their third album The Suburbs, released on Aug. 3.

Arcade Fire have created a portrait of their youth, reminiscing about the times they spent and the times they wasted in the suburbs. It’s a very pensive and thought provoking album that is in line to be one of the indie blockbusters of 2010.

What’s the best way to describe the general musical style of this album? Mellow rock, mostly. However, The Suburbs is an exciting album due to its musical diversity. The title track is delectable piece of indie pop/rock with a delectable piano riff. The lyrics find Butler longing to have a son or daughter so he can show them the beauty of the world – before it’s all gone.

The hard rocking “Month of May” is the musical equivalent of a slab of concrete to the head. Butler furiously strums his guitar chords like he’s Johnny Ramone. The vocals that have an old school feel to them, reminding me of Billy Idol.

Empty Room is also a winner, on which Regine Chassagene takes lead vocal duty for the first time. It starts off with what sounds like an orchestra at warp speed before breaking into a dirty, Sonic Youth-ish guitar riff.

But the real highlight of the ablum is Sprawl 2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains) found near the album’s close. Regine Chassagne’s airy vocals coupled with shimmering synthesizer beats gives the song the playful feel of an 80s pop song, but it’s coupled with serious/depressing subject matter. It’s a dazzling dichotomy that nobody’s pulled off this well since Nena’s 99 Luftballoons.

Chassagne laments the boredom and restrictions levied upon her by suburban society and the effect it has on the population in general. A series of well placed drum fills complete the package.

Elsewhere, Wasted Hours is a nice chillout acoustic piece and City With No Children delivers some of the band’s most inspired and introspective lyrics. “You never trust a millionaire quoting the sermon on the mount/I used to think I was not like them, but I’m beginning to have my doubts/my doubts about it,” Butler croons.

With The Suburbs, Arcade Fire have created a standout indie rock record with great songwriting and catchy melodies, and there’s not too much critical to say. It's not all totally fantastic;some songs I found boring. We Used to Wait, Deep Blue, and Suburban War lack the distinct melodies some of the album’s other songs had. At times I felt like I had to chug a red bull to stay awake through the rest of the album.

After a few listens I found a few interesting things in these songs, like the drum part near the end of Suburban War. Still, having never experienced Arcade Fire’s previous work I was very impressed by this record from a band on the verge of superstardom.

Three Favorite Tracks:

Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Month of May
The Suburbs

Lyric to use as your facebook status:
“You always seemed so sure
that one day we'd be fighting in a Suburban War
Your part of town against mine
I saw you standing on the opposite shore
But the time the first bombs fell
We were already bored."

- The Suburbs

Score: 91/100

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