Ruth's Manuvas


My musical ramblings – gig and album reviews, music news and views

Arcade Fire: The Suburbs – album review

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

On The Suburbs, Arcade Fire seem to have reconciled the fact they can both be serious about their craft, and create an album that is a joy to listen to.

Neon Bible told stories of a band absorbed by questions of religion, politics and the state of the world, so much so that it lacked the thrill of Funeral. It is as if the seven sat on pedestals facing in on themselves, concentrating on all that was high brow and worthy of being introspected upon. The Suburbs regains perspective but maintains all that was brilliant about the previous two.

On their opening title track, Win Butler and Regine Chassagne tell us they are ‘Moving past the feeling’. It’s a stark declaration and sets the trend for a 16-track album that recaptures the passion for matters closer to home. It’s a homecoming of sorts based around everyday observations – no coincidence then that chunks of the language circulate around home, suburbs, sprawl, cities and children.

These references mean it has charm, with honest declarations like Empty Room’s repeated ‘I can be myself, I can be myself’ that seem not insignificant to the overall picture of the band.

Shades of Neil Young crop up on Modern Man and City With No Children; even McCartney’s Norwegian Wood chords are traceable on Suburban War. Ready To Start and Empty Room have that familiar, euphoric, poppy, yet unique hallmark as with Rebellion (Lies) and No Cars Go and there is time during the hour for Month of May’s punky rock, extra helpings of piano-drama on We Used To Wait, and daring 70s traces on Sprawl II. Rainfall chords and orchestral strings on Half Light I merge and contrast beautifully with muted disco beats on Half Light II.

The Suburbs feels like a truthful album. It has less of the preaching, but all of the musical nuances of Neon Bible, and also manages to extend and better the beautiful, sad acceptance of life’s losses on Funeral. Arcade Fire are no longer trying to change a view point, they are genuflecting to the things that fundamentally matter – looking into their own back yard if you will – and it’s a lengthy journey, but an exhilarating one.

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2 Responses

  1. Great review, probably better than mine. It’s a really good album I think, but it takes a couple of listens, particularly when I’ve been exposing myself to far too many synthesisers over the past few months!

  2. ruthsmanuvas says:

    Thank you v much! 🙂

    I agree on the synths! Once they infiltrate your brain nothing seems quite as instantly gratifying!

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