This was not what I expected at all from this album. I found myself enjoying it immensely. The Suburbs came recommended, so I bought it on a whim and had a listen. To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. I'm not a picky person when it comes to music; however, it's just become increasingly rare to find any type of music with soul these days. Especially when that music can be heard on the mainstream stations. But this album focuses on many things: nostalgia, growing up, individualism vs. the system taking away creativity, greed, hope, and much more. It's as much an album as a story that the listener can connect with. No wonder this won a Grammy. Amidst a sea of (mostly) bland music up for awards, Arcade Fire pulled through and took home Album of the Year. This was well deserved.
Let's get the only negative out of the way first: the title track. This is one of your take it or leave it songs. Personally I think I have to be in a certain mood to want to listen to it. Other than that, pretty much everything else is well made. There are a couple slow points such as Wasted Hours and Deep Blue, but these are still good songs in their own right. Unfortunately, the other songs are so well done that these two just don't stand up against an energetic rocker like "Ready to Start" or the nostalgic "Half-Light" duo that can be found on the CD.
Highlights of the CD include the three aforementioned tracks: Ready to Start and the Half-Light songs. There's also the catchy Rococo, a song that addresses the younger generation's tendency to use words they don't understand. There's the thoughtful Modern Man, the rocker Month of May, and the poignant Empty Room that all succeed in delighting the listener. But the two main standouts of the album rise above all of these. Suburban War hits home with anyone who remembers growing up and apart from old friends. The lyrics, "Now the cities we live in, could be distant stars" coupled with the following guitar rhythm is simply fantastic. Suburban War really is a standout and worth giving a listen. The other highlight has to be Sprawl II (Beyond Mountains). A song that can have a myriad of meanings, it encompasses themes such as: individuality vs. the system stifling creativity, the spread of suburbia destroying nature, work vs. downtime, relaxation, and more. This may sound pretentious, but clocking in at over 5 minutes, it's anything but over-the-top with subdued lyrics that quickly make a point. If there's one thing this band knows how to do, it's knowing when to pull back so that they're not coming across as full of themselves. Regine sings the song with an energetic attitude, making the song hopeful rather than depressing.
This is definitely an album worth buying. It's highly recommended.