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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.