At this point calling Arcade Fire a true indie band is a little like calling Star Trek a fresh new show. Still, the release of their new album, The Suburbs, has been treated with a new excitement in indie nerds such as me. Starting the album, I was personally pleased by the clarity and coalesced nature of the music. The title track, “The Suburbs,” holds a charming beat reminiscent of an old saloon with a very active piano starting off the mix. While this song is good, it seems to go on a bit too long. Luckily this element is quickly put to the side with the strong piercing beats of “Ready To Start.” For the next few songs, including my personal favorite “Modern Man,” the album remains deceptively pensive by disguising deep lyrics with cheerful bounding instrumental parts.
“Empty Room” begins the next element of the album with an even faster paced blurry beat. Much like “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” from their master album, Funeral, this song serves as a fast paced escape in the middle of slower song, that is highly welcome, though the following song, “City With No Children,” is equally as positive sounding.
Both “Half Light” I and II serve as nice transition songs and as an incredible ballad, though their positioning before “Suburban War” decreases the appeal of what would be a medium beat pensive song. While “Suburban War” does have a more upbeat middle, the song seems to drone on just a little bit long and leaves the listener wishing for more upbeat parts. “Month Of May” is an upbeat rock song with a catchy beat, though the smooth lyrics easily get lost in the over-eager guitar. After such an upbeat song, Arcade Fire once again returns to a fairly relaxed portion for “Wasted Hours,” “Deep Blue,” and to an extent, “We Used To Wait.” “We Used To Wait” is a primary focus for the album, coming surprising late in the album. This song is truly worth a listen as it is quite imaginative and is an echo of their older work.
The album closes with another set of songs, “Sprawl” I and II, and the closing bookend, “The Suburbs (Continued).” Despite being in a set, “Sprawl” I and II have entirely different moods with “Sprawl I” being darker and slower and “Sprawl II” reminding me ever so slightly of a cheesy 80’s song with better lyrics. “The Suburbs (Continued)” has an aura of walking in on the final scene of a 40’s romance movie and is an appropriate ending for such a diverse album.
For someone who has enjoyed Arcade Fire’s past work, this album is a natural continuation with many of the same joys and problems. The songs are pensive, though a few of them are repetitive and long. For someone who has never listened to the band before, it is worth listening, and if you like the songs, then continue to discover their powerful discography.