10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars post-Grammy musings and why it's worth listening to this album
I wanted to write this review after seeing the Grammys and hearing the grumbles among the many commercial artists and confused public that have never heard of Arcade Fire. With a very well respected fanbase of musicians and fellow artists (okay, so maybe not necessarily among the pop and hip-hop set), it was a bit surprising to see so many blank expressions.
Published on Feb. 17 2011 by Stewart Tsuji
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not exactly what I expected
Do not know why this won so many awards.It does have excellent tracks. but 50% I think could of been not recorded.
Published 12 months ago by richard t pavia
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars post-Grammy musings and why it's worth listening to this album,
This review is from: Suburbs (Audio CD)I wanted to write this review after seeing the Grammys and hearing the grumbles among the many commercial artists and confused public that have never heard of Arcade Fire. With a very well respected fanbase of musicians and fellow artists (okay, so maybe not necessarily among the pop and hip-hop set), it was a bit surprising to see so many blank expressions.
I think the most important thing that I can say about this is that music used to mean something more than a top 10 hit, album sales, or branding. Music was not created to target a particular audience or achieve a max level of radio rotation. I love pop and hip-hop music, but when we become so obsessed with the artificial markers of success, we lose something. I think the Grammys did a great job of trying to strip away these markers and understand something about the craft of music and what it means. An album is not a collection of singles. In this, they got the nominations right and Arcade Fire are more than worthy of the accolades.
The Suburbs is a concept album that doesn't try to be a concept album. It effortlessly bounces back and forth between sounds and styles and creates an atmosphere of nostalgia, regret, hope, and longing, that reflects the sonic landscape of 80s-90s 'burbs. I had read the initial press on the album and understood that it was an exploration and expression of growing up in the suburban sprawl. Even as a fan of their previous albums, it took repeated listens to finally get it - now it seems to get even better each time I listen to it.
The album itself is a pure rock and roll album with no tricks or illusions. It's an album crafted from the ground up (written, performed, and produced) by a group of musicians that believe in the music as a medium and a message. No pandering to the lowest common denominator to produce a pop hit or radio friendly single. In my opinion, separating a song out of the album diminishes the whole - you lose the context of album in the same way that reading even the best chapter out of book doesn't really tell you the story.
Some of the best music out there has never been played on the radio or seen a stint on MTV - consider how radio and music video stations get their playlists and what motivates what gets put out there. Are we demanding this music, or are we being fed this music and told all the reasons we like it? The fact that this album broke through the veil of the multi-million dollar machinery of the music industry should tell you something.
Give it a try - whether you traditionally enjoy the genre at all is unimportant. You may just surprise yourself and discover something new about the potential of music.
5.0 out of 5 stars one album behind,
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This review is from: Suburbs: Deluxe Edition (Scenes from the Suburbs) (Audio CD)I'm just catching up w suburbs Dec 2013 ; I've played the Cd four times and similar to best albums out there from musicians who can actually play instruments and write their own lyrics and music, the album is proving to get richer w every listen.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful songs about life and its relentless pursuit to wear us out,
This review is from: Suburbs (Audio CD)In "The Suburbs" , their grandiose opus to the love handles to which many great cities succumb, Arcade Fire have conjured a concept album of beautiful odes to modernity, regret, despair and wasting time. From the opening track, through to the final reprise, the theme is tightly woven. Win Butler's lyrics unfold like short stories, each one serving an escapist mandate of looking back to the good old days of childhood, when innocence reigned and change was something that only adults had to deal with. In Suburban War "This town is strange, they built it to change", he forlornly observes that somehow these schemes are all planned out, and we can't escape the future. The future is the foe addressed in many of the songs - in We Used to Wait he sings "Now our lives are changing fast, hope that something pure can last," a common lament in these times of constantly upgrading, renovating and replacing things in our lives that we barely get to know before we throw them away. He also targets the faux authority of hipsters, accusing them in Rococo of "using big words that they don't understand" and "moving towards you with their colors all the same." Sprawl and and Sprawl II serve as bookends to a tale of being overcome by "dead shopping malls that rise like mountains beyond mountains." Butler begins part one with a sorrowful deconstructed tone, but when Régine Chassagne joins in on part two, the beat picks up and takes the form of a Blondie indie-remix, full of keyboards and a cheerful 80's beat. In fact, the keyboard is present on many of the tracks - not overabundant - but providing lush pads, rolling bass lines and symphonic accompaniment.
The Bruce Springsteen comparisons can still be made - certainly a compliment - but if anything Arcade Fire push their instrumentation in an unexpected direction at every turn. A real musical dissonance is evident right from the outset in the title track. Melodic strumming guitars and piano are met with sorrowful strings and a Neil Young Mirrorball-era lead guitar part, underlining the uncomfortable realization that "I can't believe it, I'm moving past the feeling." The orchestrations are richly constructed, layered up and stripped back down with the rise and fall of each song's story-line. The anthem quality is present in a number of the 16 tracks - which will surely be appreciated by fans of their live shows.
A fantastic album - which is no surprise coming from Arcade Fire.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the suburbs,
This review is from: Suburbs (Audio CD)I think it's great. It's simple, it makes me happy I grew up in the suburbs. It makes me proud. It's a slight step aside from their last albums, which is a good thing. Instead of trying to beat the amazing Funeral, they just went another direction.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful lyrics, beautifully textured sound, important message,
This review is from: Suburbs (Audio CD)We live in a community which is about to decide whether to protect its rural character, tourism potential, and agricultural productivity, or to throw it all away by giving free rein to outside developers of substandard housing, ugly strip malls, and uncontrolled urban sprawl, so the emotions and insights triggered by the lyrics of Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" ring very true for us.
Add to this the fact that Sarah Neufeld, the band's brilliant violinist, grew up in farm country just north of our town on Vancouver Island, and the album's message becomes even more relevant and personal. I'm not sure how much input she has to the Butler brothers' writing process, but suspect that as a Merville girl she agrees with the thrust of their lyrics.
From the outset, Arcade Fire has been a band capable of sensuous and creative musical textures supported by multi-instrumental prowess and driving rhythms, and with "The Suburbs" they have generated even more aural appeal than "Neon Bible", which was a ground-breaking accomplishment sonically.
I highly recommend "The Suburbs" for anyone who appreciates a band that has achieved a convincing balance of musicality, creativity, and message. The reasonable ticket prices and superb performances at their concerts make Arcade Fire even more admirable. For a sample, check Google for a link to the webcast of their recent Madison Square Garden concert.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Done,
This review is from: Suburbs (Audio CD)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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern-Day Pop Masterpiece,
This review is from: Suburbs (Audio CD)Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" is a modern-day pop masterpiece that greatly expands the band's scope and ambition. After a few spins, I couldn't help but think that AF is on the verge of becoming the new Beatles, in that they write songs that are infused with love, have universal appeal and are at the creative forefront of modern pop music - all the while keeping the songs melodic, interesting and accessible. Stand-outs include the eerie and thunderous "Rococo", the gorgeous, pulsating "Half Light I", the Beatlesque "Deep Blue" and the ode to a not-so-distant past "We Used to Wait", wherein frontman Win Butler sings "hope that something pure can last". Well "The Suburbs" is about as pure as it gets. Highly recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars Extras to this aren't bad but not great,
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This review is from: The Suburbs (Dlx Ed) (W/Dvd) (Audio CD)After the original release, the band (or label or both) decided to release a "deluxe" edition which contains 2 extra tracks, a slip/paper to download two more tracks and a DVD which contains the short film "Scenes from the Suburbs", the making of the short film and promo videos. Total time for the DVD is about 49 minutes. The film is sort of typical for an indee band. Interesting to note that the members of the band appear in the short film - in addition to other actors - some prominent roles and others small (they probably shouldn't quit their evening job).
The package includes a different booklet than the original release feature pictures taken from the film (or during the filming).
With the room on the DVD, wouldn't been nice to thrown in a few other extras like footage from various festivals or appearances (unless they are saving that for a Suburbs' version of Mirror Noir.
4.0 out of 5 stars I feel so alone now,
This review is from: Suburbs (Audio CD)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 masterpiece albums for Arcade Fire!,
This review is from: Suburbs (Audio CD)Get this album, easily the best band of the decade.
Best Tracks: Half Light 2, Suburban War, Deep Blue and the rest of them.
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