Funeral was about family, and Neon Bible was about institutions. The Suburbs on first listen, feels like adolescence, the time when you’re trapped between leaving one and joining the other. Will and Win Butler told NPR that the record would be about their childhood in the suburbs of Houston, Texas. So that makes sense. But what this very long –maybe too long–album seems to be about is losing and regaining innocence, reconciling your private world (developed in your room, in study hall, in the back car seat on family road trips) with the outside one.

In a sense that lost innocence has always played a part in their work, from “Neighborhood #1” to “No Cars Go.” That’s why they were such great inspiration for Spike Jonze as he adapted Where The Wild Things Are (it looks like he’s repaying the favor now). But adolescence and young adulthood feels like the center for the first time.

That this theme is back is apparent from the opening notes. “The Suburbs” bookends the album, titles the album, provides its thesis, etc, its piano-laden calls to “grab your mother’s keys / we’re leaving.” We heard “Ready To Start,” but “Modern Man” is one of the most interesting tracks on the record. Lyrically it sticks to a theme of suburban dissatisfaction, but the mix is what’s notable. Win Butler’s melody and prose suggest bombast, but his gentle delivery floats above a sketch of a larger, louder song. In another context, the line about wanting to “break the mirror” of the Modern Man might induce a cringe, but here the subtlety of the mix and Butler’s delivery drains the line of macho stupidity. “Rococo” is the example he uses of “great big words that they don’t understand,” but it could also refer to the decorative strings (they’re far more necessary in “Empty Room”) and bits of what sounds like harpsichord, as well as the suburbs’ love of style over substance.

In “Rococo” Butler mentions the “modern kids,” and in “City With No Children” he warns, “never trust a millionaire” over the song’s handclaps. All this could remind you of the Hold Steady. But Arcade Fire still see themselves as the kids (remember the “us kids know” of “No Cars Go”), which makes them more invested in the “private prisons” of age and money. They don’t have Craig Finn’s wry distance. You hear it again in the most electric songs like “Half Light II (No Celebration)” and “Suburban War” the struggle for purity and innocence as much a matter of life and death as it was for, say, Holden Caulfield. Or it can be as easy as the “kids standing with their arms folded tight” as they are in “Month Of May,” a forceful, urgent song that seems designed to lift the kids out of their boredom.

The next few songs (“Wasted Hours” “Deep Blue” “We Used To Wait”) are much like “The Suburbs,” though the latter pops out in the second half. “Sprawl” and “Sprawl II” stand out. The first is a slow breakup that turns into a confrontation with the cops. The second is a Regine track, a surprising album standout that actually sounds a little bit like Siouxsie and the Banshees, where a keyboard laying down an arpeggiated melody and electronic strings under her high vocal.

The road trip ends back at another take on “The Suburbs.” It’s impressive to hear the different ways they’re working out their themes here. The songs blend into each other, sometimes one will abruptly change in the middle, there are Tom Petty-style rockers mixed in with more electronic pop songs (in that same NPR interview they said Neil Young crossed with Depeche Mode). As with the multiple album covers, Arcade Fire want to try multiple takes and versions, and don’t want to compromise. That’s good and bad: while the album may not drag, it does hit a long stretch of sameness on the second half. “Sprawl II” makes it worth the trip though. “If I could have it back/All the time that we wasted/I would only waste it again,” the Butlers whisper at the end, reminding us that even the wasted moments are important.

The Suburbs is out 8/2 in the UK and 8/2 in the US via Merge/Canada via AF’s Sonovox label.

Comments (124)
  1. The Clash’s Sandinista could have been a spectacular single album. I think we have another example of when a few edits would do wonders. Regardless, it’s certainly an above average album and probably ranks over Neon Bible.

  2. I’ve been thinking of The Clash too. Would it be Sandinista or London Calling?

  3. While I do think Neon Bible was a criminally underrated album, I think I am enjoying The Suburbs more. I think everyone will forever be dissapointed in all of Arcade Fire’s work if they keep comparing it to Funeral, however.

  4. BBC says it’s better than Ok Computer…

    • Yeah… not quite OK Computer..

      • Certain gives it a run… Different era… completely different band. BBC may be a bit out of place comparing the two. But don’t kid yourself one bit, this is a wonderful album that will age well.

    • aww snappppp! BBC’s obviously just trying to make a historical album review out of it, and chances are people will talk about that statement ten years from now lololol

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • Although I agree with the core of what you’re saying — that this album represents the moment when a style of music (in this case, the grandiose, the-more-instruments-the-better sound a lot of people, myself included, have dug over the past decade) ceases to be new or fresh — saying that “indie” and “rock and roll” are over is bullshit.

        There have been great forward-looking “indie” and “rock and roll” albums this year.

        This record isn’t bad. At all. It’s totally acceptable. I mean, people are still making 60s pastiche albums in 2010 which are plenty enjoyable. No one expects The Suburbs to be some kinda sea-change in Music As We Know It. It’s totally likely that this album will look better 10 years down the road when a lot of us aren’t tired of this sound.

        Also, Nazis are overplayed. Find a new stock insult.

      • Trollocaust.

  5. I love it!
    It’s like The Joshua Tree mixed with Darkness on the Edge of Town, yet completely original!

  6. Too long? Not long enough. Each song has so much meaning and effort behind it…. This album will age well.

  7. It’s going to take a few listens because it seems he’s trying to get a message across, although not clear. The vocals are hidden behind the wall of noise, the songs are longer, it has less build-ups/climaxes than Funeral (which is the reason why Funeral was great).

    But, it sounds like they carefully crafted each song. They sound much more mature also. You can hear some influences from the late 70s to the Pixies (see Joey Santiago) to modern 1990s alternative rock.

    They’re definitely creating an atmosphere, almost creating a painting in my very eyes. Funeral was Yellow, Neon Bible was Black, and The Suburbs is Red.

  8. “Darkness on the Edge of Town” is the same historical antecedent I thought of as well. Great album; I’m proud of them for not being afraid of doing a big, long statement album in 2010.

  9. Half Light II (Celebration) is one of the best songs I have ever heard.

  10. I was expecting to be good but not this good! It must be one of the best 5 or 6 albums this year.

  11. Have all of you guys heard the record? I didn’t think it was out until August 2nd (at least in the UK)

  12. Suburban War has been on repeat for the last 2 hours. I love this album and that track in particular.

  13. I’ve fallen out of love with Arcade Fire like people do with long-term partners.

    Which is to say that they’re still performing adequately, but the spark is no longer there.

    Win, Regine, et al — it’s me not you.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • Have you considered that you may be getting down-voted because you’re a tedious douche bag? Your brand of inarticulate, self-indulgent contrarianism is worthless and ought to be discouraged. Also, alliteration doesn’t automatically make you sound witty. “Torch-born heralds of their despicable disposition” is artless gibberish.

        • Yeah, this guy is a troll even if he doesn’t realize it himself.

          That said, I do think it’s a little odd to downvote me when I wasn’t saying anything negative about the album. I was just kinda sad I’m not able to enjoy this album as much as other people seem to be.

          Tastes change, and there’s no arguing with taste.

        • I have, and you’re absolutely right. I respect your viewpoint, and apologize for lowering the standards of these forums. I will refrain from doing so in the future.

  14. This album owns my face. Plain and simple.

  15. Arcade Fire are now 3/3.

    And they need to be applauded, not only for their great songs, but for their ability to create cohesive records. Each of their albums holds together so well, aesthetically, thematically, etc. This one is just fantastic and doesn’t sound much like the two before. Most bands either rehash their early stuff or try to hard to do something different.

    I’m shocked “Half Light” and “Half Light II” weren’t mentioned. Those two, followed by “Suburban War” make one hell of a middle section. But I guess I could just list all the songs and rave and rave and rave, which wouldn’t be very productive. All I can say is that clearly this band is and has always been the real deal.

  16. is it only me that really starts to enjoy the album from half light I? having said that, its thoroughly enjoyable, could have even more excellent without a few tracks (3 to be exact), needs to be more concise probably not the extend of being comparable to sandinista

    • I maybe the only one, but “Month of May” has been constantly running through my head for almost a week. You can’t ctrl-alt-delete/close program an earworm as such.

      • I agree, Month Of May is one of my favourites, personally. Just really energetic, supremely catchy rock music. It’s a nice break of pace in the middle of the album, and i’ve liked it quite a bit since it was first released.

  17. Really a great album. It does get a bit samey, but not in a bad way, just in the way that one aesthetic is adhered to throughout the whole thing. Rococo and We Used to Wait are two of the best songs they’ve ever done.

  18. Where on the internet can you find this album?

  19. I really liked the first half of Funeral. I hated most of Neon Bible (except maybe for “Intervention”). But this new one is really incredible. From the sequencing to the production, it immediately sounds like an epic classic, and I’m not afraid to say that online at all, even knowing I’ll have it hanging over my head for all of interneternity.

    I just made up that word. Interneternity. You read it here first.

    Seriously tho, I finally understand what all the hype was about. This album will be around for a long time. At least in my head.

  20. I’m really quite shocked at how good this is.

  21. it’s definitely growing on me. however, i can’t help but feel like the whole album is on the same level. i want more highs and lows. i feel like this album is so solid, but it’s missing those magic moments when you really swoon. i dunno.

    • I don’t think it’s missing those moments, I think they were intentionally avoided, and to really exciting results.

  22. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • lyrical pandering, clumsy composition and immature production? Sorry, but I’ve got to disagree.

    • Looking at your comment history makes me wonder: do you like music? You seem to bag on every fucking artist imaginable. “Wah, wah, wah indie rock is dead, music is dead, fuck hipsters, we are at the end of civilization. I’m bored art is meaningless and contrived and when I heard Funeral I was like, yawn, Imma go take a shit.”

      Get over yourself.

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • It’s one thing to have an open discussion about music on a forum; it’s another thing to consistently just throw shit as much as possible. One thing I enjoy about Stereogum, probably the only thing I enjoy about Stereogum, is the fact that they have a comments section for their posts. It allows readers to challenge what Amrit and the other writers say, and it allows readers to voice their opinions. If I didn’t want to read what people thought, ideas that concurred and dissented from my opinion, I would read a Pitchfork post and pretend everyone unanimously agreed with my thoughts. You made your opinion VERY clear about this album by posting like, 4 comments saying that it’s shit. We get it. We also got it when you posted a million times how you thought the new Panda Bear songs were shit. If you just arguing for the sake of arguing then that also takes away the joy of discussing music.

          Right now my only assumption about your taste in music is that you do not listen to anything made after Beethoven’s Fifth (everything else was just way too long-winded and pretentious). Obviously, that is probably not the case.

          Finally, to answer your last question: I enjoy Arcade Fire. Funeral was a beautiful album that was lyrically resonant to my life and has sentimental value for me. Having said that, I realize I have a biased opinion when it comes to that album, so I know that I often blow the greatness of it out of proportion. Neon Bible had some goods songs but I wasn’t really attached to it. I refuse to listen to the leak (although my gluttonous ways have led me to listen to about 5/6 songs from it) but right now it lies somewhere in between the two.

          But I’m really just a fucking asshole. As is everybody else.

          • Also, I realize “biased opinion” is redundant. Suck my dick.

          • I agree with everything you said here, except the last line: You’re not an asshole. I’ve pretty much categorically been a prick on these forums, and you’re right to call me out. I sincerely apologize, this has been a misguided personal social experiment gone horribly wrong. Truce?

          • Shit I can’t figure out how to reply to you. Oh well.

            Haha I kind of understand where you’re coming from. It’s the internetz! Why not be a prick? It can be fun sometimes… Personally, I liked this conversation. My anger, while directed at you, was directed at a wide group of people (including many of my friends). Sometimes I get frustrated at this need to criticize bands. I grew up around music and I know how complicated and difficult it is to compose a great song, even a mediocre one, so I usually give songs the benefit of the doubt. To make me hate a song you have to really suck (eg Nite Jewel, Washed Out). But anyways, this was fun. Maybe we should do it again sometime.

            Kidding, of course.

            Looking at your music taste, I’m glad to know you like music. I’m also glad/surprised to know you like Bromst. I don’t know some of those artists (Free Electric State) but I will check them out.

            I feel bad I instigated a shitstorm of people downvoting/hating on you. So I do apologize for that. Also, you seem to get very defensive over downvoting. When people downvote they are not personally attacking you; they are mostly just using it to show they agree/disagree with your opinion. Obviously no one is going to “like” a statement that they do not relate with. And generally, people who dislike songs aren’t going to bother posting comments about how they think a song is shitty (unless it’s THAT shitty) so that’s why there’s such an imbalance on the comments section.

          • @ silvervest – You were totally in the right to call me out. I realized that over time I’ve become increasingly negative towards new music, in part because of my own frustrations towards the current climate in the music business (I’ve tried to make a living of music as a songwriter, producer, and a session guitarist). Music has become more fractured and divisive now, with taste and opinions differing wildly, and that may be good. But when coupled with the internet’s innate lack of personal accountability, it can make for some real flame wars and haterism..

            But I don’t have a particularly “precious” view of music, it’s aesthetics, and I don’t need to be spewing off about a song if I don’t like it, I totally agree with you there. Thing is, I’ve written and produced a lot of my own music, most of it shit, and I could have really benefited from people actually telling me their real opinion, instead of just saying “yeah I like it, good song man!” cause they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. But that need to be genuine towards other artists turned me into a giant douche-troll..

            But I’m glad this whole shitstorm happened, it really means that people are trying to take these kinds of forums seriously. Even though we are behind avatars, we still need to respect each other.

            Yeah, I’ve been a huge Dan Deacon fan for a while. He comes through Chapel Hill a lot, and his shows are freaking amazing. Free Electric State is a really good band out of Durham, NC. They’re kind of a My Bloody Valentine/Sonic Youth/Pumpkins dream-pop/noise-rock outfit, which is definitely my bag. If you get a chance, check out The Love Language, they’re out of Chapel Hill, and seem to be on the verge of breaking. I’d be interested to hear what you think of them.

        • Okay, I have to take the bait. Batonkatruck, I need to know what albums have you liked over the three years or so? Did all good music die with “OK Computer?”

          I remember you hated the new Wolf Parade songs, you seem to hate Arcade Fire, and another poster mentioned you hated Panda Bear. (Personally, I am a big fan of Wolf Parade and Panda Bear and mostly indifferent to Arcade Fire.)

          But to get to my point, are there any bands that Stereogum covers in which you have any vested interest? I have no problem with critical comments, but your, “Woe is me! The pain of being an enlightened hipster who sees the truth of the mediocrity of modern music swirls through the endless depths of my blackened soul! I wish the end were nigh!” approach to commenting is a little grating.

          I tend to notice a decent split on Stereogum of people who are disappointed with music and people who are happy with it. Sure, maybe it’s 60/40 for people who are a little fan-boyish versus critical, but the only time I see substantial down-voting is when the comments are condescending, elitist drivel or trolling.

          If you were funny, then I think people would be able to ignore your pessimistic opinions. But there’s no humor or real value in anything you say. I remember in the Wolf Parade thread you were expressing opinions before you ever really listened to the music. Listen to the tunes, post your opinion, then move on.

          • I have to admit, it’s good to see people sticking up for the integrity of their web communities, and I say that with all sincerity. I fully admit to being destructively contrary, on purpose. This whole practice started when I noticed my local indie publication “The Independent” in Chapel Hill, NC refused print anything but praise in reviewing local artists. The local music scene here has largely become a social club where “the scene” is far more important than quality (unless you’re referring to quality of beard). Dissenting opinions have largely evaporated, and I see it all over the web too. Hence a self-imposed mission to prod people into actual debate.

            Clearly this habit has run amok here, and it was largely fed when I wrote a well-intended, lukewarm opinion of a Dead Weather track. It focused on both the positives and negatives, and I thought it would spur good debate.. It was immediately downvoted not because it was destructive, but because 5 people seemed offended that I didn’t love the track. That made me lose respect for the purpose of these comments.

            As for your question, and I appreciate the opportunity to expand on my take on music, here are a few albums from the last 3 years that I’ve really enjoyed (in no particular order):

            Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
            Beck – Modern Guilt
            Sigur Ros – Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
            Built to Spill – There is No Enemy
            Dan Deacon – Bromst
            Sonic Youth – The Eternal
            Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
            Sufjan Stevens – The BQE
            Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM
            Flaming Lips – Embryonic
            Jonsi Birgisson – Go
            Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me
            Boris – Smile
            Josh Ritter – So the World Runs Away
            Mono – Holy Ground
            Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
            Free Electric State – Caress
            M83 – Saturdays = Youth
            Tera Melos – Drugs to the Dear Youth

            Feel free to lambast my taste or whatever, I’ve certainly your wrath. I’m a great lover of music, and have misrepresented that here. That said, I will gladly refrain from commenting in these forums unless I have something good to say, and again, I do appreciate and respect a community that won’t put up with bullshit.

          • @ batonkatruck – i know you didn’t ask me, but i saw you mentioned The Love Language up a couple posts. i really like them – but the funny thing is that, if i had to pick one artist that influences them the most, it would be Arcade Fire… especially on their new album. maybe you disagree, but i just thought that was interesting/ironic.

        • batonkatruck on autolux: “they are my favorite band!”

          autolux sucks, dude. you hate everything… except this?? really??

          more on autolux: “when i heard the fabulous news of their new album i immediately e-mailed their manager to say thanks and to tell the band i want to blow them.”

          good job bashing “fanboys”, fanboy.

          • I got it…. Autolux has an album coming out the same day. I think this is someone trying to start the old Blur vs. Oasis type war, trying to rile up all of the last 15 Autolux fans. I assume your upset that stereogum doesn’t have a column called “premature evaluation: transit, transit” and your pissed that people don’t know or care that their new album leaked.

          • I openly admit it, I’m an Autolux fanboy. And believe me, it’s troubling. Nobody else in the world seems to like Autolux except an old band-mate of mine who turned me on to them. I respect your opinion, in any case.. seems to be the majority you speak for.

          • seems like batonkatruck likes white music.

    • I know! Can you believe these crazy Stereogum folks who claim Arcade Fire is better than Beethoven? And after only a couple listens to the album. Jeez. I too hope somebody starts a nuclear war. Me and Beethoven share that angsty feeling.

    • You’re a “batonkatruck comment” apologist

  23. It’s not bad, but I don’t hear anything spectacular on it. Maybe a little long, maybe a little too “samey”. Again, it’s not bad, but I can’t imagine thinking to myself, “I really feel like listening to _____ off The Suburbs”

  24. I love the album. It was a grower for sure. At first I thought it was okay, but now im really loving it. Best album of 2010 so far. My favorites are Deep Blue, Wasted Hours, Half Light I, Half Light II, Empty Room, The Suburbs( Continued).

  25. “empty room” will be legendary from the stage. this is a fact.

  26. All of my friends have already heard this album and is not out ’till two weeks. I’m going to wait till the official release date. why? i don’t know but i’m still enjoying m.i.a.’s, scissor sisters and sleigh bells new albums

    • Those two albums are so last year… that’s “internet years” which break-down as follows:

      1 regular week = 3 internet months
      3 regular months = 1 internet year
      6 regular months = 2 internet years
      1 regular year = 4 internet years
      10 regular years = 40 internet years

      Class dismissed.

  27. Countdown to the first “Dancing On My Own” – “Half Light II” mash-up has started…

  28. Honestly I didn’t understand all the hype behind Funeral. I like some tracks but it just didn’t live up to everything I was hearing. I tried again to get into this band with Neon Bible. The only song there I like was Intervention. Having said that this album has made me a fan. Yeah its a little long but it is truly a great album all the way through, both musically and conceptually.

    • and now I need to go listen to funeral again to see what I was missing.

      • Funeral seemed to raw to me. Crown of Love remains my fav because the song builds up to an explosive climax. That’s the Arcade Fire I really enjoy.

        But I also understand that they want to explore and do things a little differently. Power to them. This latest album seems to be less explosive, more repetitive. Maybe less emotion, musically. But lyrically, it’s full of emotion.

        It’s just different.

  29. I’m just too lazy to click on the “Click here to see” link…. Sorry batonkatruk. :(

  30. Suburbs is definitely my favorite of all three of their records. I don’t agree that it’s overly long or same-y though. On first listen I found the way Win inflects his voice on some of the songs annoying, notably on city with no children, but after a few listens I started to appreciate it. Every track to me sounds necessary the more I listen to it. The half light series might be the best thing that this band had ever done.

  31. I’d never thought I’d be saying this about an Arcade Fire album, but I think my favorite songs on the new record are the ones that Regine sings. Maybe I’m just getting tired of hearing Win’s affected whine.

    • I was just thinking that his voice has gotten less affected over the years. He seems to have found a lot of confidence in it. There were a few Oberstian moments on Funeral, but I grew to love them. Here, he seems pretty straight-forward in comparison.

  32. I don’t this is going to sell anyone on arcade fire who doesn’t already love them. Or change the minds of those who hate arcade fire.

    My aunt is a musician and singer (in her late 40s) who’s super into old country/bluegrass/soul/r&b etc. She’s a cool lady. She bought me my first CD – U2′s Boy – the same year my mom bought me Hootie and the Blowfish, and followed it up year after year with things like “from the muddy banks of wishkah”.

    Point is, I respect my aunt’s taste… but I’ve tried numerous times to get her into arcade fire, and she just doesn’t get the “angst” in it all.. (her word). This won’t change her mind.

    I however, fucking love arcade fire, and fucking love this CD. (and I still say my aunt’s a fool)

  33. ddogdunit  |   Posted on Jul 27th, 2010 -1

    stereogum, HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN THE TOP FEATURED STORY????? this is the problem with your new format. it’s like you never add any fucking content to this site anymore. i barely check sgum anymore, it’s sad that this is how it is. there’s no reason for this, and it’s lazy. are all your writers on vacation seeing shows at brooklyn bowl or something?

  34. For sure. Regine sound so much more honest/heartfelt on this album. Win is nearly unbearable on Modern Man/Rococo. Sprawl II is the best track on the album, definitely on par with most of Funeral.

    I like the album, but I think that cutting a few songs (Modern Man, Rococo, maybe Suburban War) would have made it a lot stronger. Win just gets too soap-boxy for my taste every now and then.

    • Those songs are so good, though! “Rococo” builds subtly, “Modern Man” has that 5/4 bar and the reverb sounds great, “Suburban War” does the coda thing with the tempo shift they did so well on Funeral. Anyway. We don’t have to agree, but I hear their confidence so much in those songs, specifically.

      I think if anything, “Empty Room” should have been cut because there’s really no dynamic shift in it. Or “Ready To Start,” which sounds more like a Neon Bible holdover, with how heavy and dark it feels. But I really wouldn’t cut anything here, it’s all great to me.

    • It’s funny, I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s comments because a lot of people seem to like it, but have suggestions for what to cut here and there. I had to respond to you Anguis because for me Rococo was the entire reason I gave the album a second chance. At first I thought the whole thing was second-rate, but Rococo brought me in. Then, as I gave it more spins, the complexity, emotional depth and far more sophisticated lyrics (at least compared to neon bible) started setting in. Now I’d say Modern Man, Rococo and Suburban War are some of my favorite songs.

      I think a lot of us might think it’s too long because we’re used to such shorter albums these days, and I agree I feel like the album goes on forever sometimes, but I can’t think of a song to cut!

      I dunno, I’m on listen 15 or so and feel like I’m just getting the brilliance of it. I think this could be better than anything we’ve heard in a while… different than funeral, but certainly as exciting and emotionally charged as that album.

      I realized how much I liked Suburbs when I tried putting on Funeral or NB and wanted to go back to Suburbs. Crazy.

      And now I’ve written entirely too much.

      • And yes, I realize the irony that I appreciate the “more sophisticated lyrics” but got hooked on the album by a song that repeats the same word 75 times. I need the musical hooks first, the lyrics keep me coming back for more.

      • I think the pure “songwriting” (lyrics, melodies, composition) are great on this. The production and song arrangement are less stand out than on the previous two, which forces you to focus on other parts of the songs than the build ups and the instrumentation.

        Def. feels slightly long, but not in a way where you want to turn anything off… just like, “Oh, this is still on? INTERESTING.”

  35. yeah they pooped the album out.. nothing unexpected.

  36. on first listen there were only a few songs that stuck out to me, and it all sounded pretty same-y and too long and whatever. but now i’ve probably listened to it like 7 or 8 times and all the songs are coming into their own for me, which is really cool. i would say going from “shit sounds the same, too long” to “every song is awesome in its own way” is a huge accomplishment. go arcade fire!
    i’ve just now started thinking about it in the context of their other albums – i definintely like it better than Neon Bible, but its hard for me to compare it to Funeral. i think Suburbs may very well be a better album than Funeral, but i have so many memories and feelings associated with that album (it came out when i was 19, cmon) that i can hardly look at it objectively. i guess there is no point in ranking them anyway…
    so, The Suburbs was a really nice surprise because i really wasn’t expecting it to be this good! Fav songs: Ready To Start, Rococo, Empty Room, Half Light I and II, Suburban War, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
    and can we all agree that at least they didn’t just randomly throw “Headlights Look Like Diamonds” on it?? (looking at you, No Cars Go…)

    • No Cars Go is the best Arcade Fire song. Liking the Suburbs more each spin.

      • agree, man. No Cars Go and my body is a cage, but i liked laika as well. And the suburbs does need a few listening, but its get better and better as I’m listening to it. Someone said that it’s like joshua tree and darkness on the…. mixed together, I’m a quite big fan of Joshua tree but I don’t feel the similies with this one, I felt it listening to wake up, laika, no cars go, but this album is something else

      • oh i love No Cars Go too, but it had no business being re-recorded and put on Neon Bible when it was already on their EP from before Funeral… or maybe its just me

  37. waited until i could get it on vinyl to give it a listen.

    it lacks obvious hooks on the first listen. kinda same-y, yeah, but i hope that goes away with more spins. they’ve definitely created an atmosphere devoid of funeral’s sweeping highs and lows, but it’s still enjoyable and full of feeling. the Regine songs are the standouts, i think.
    seems like the suburbs will be one of those albums that will fit nicely into the background while i study or work, whereas funeral always reaches out and demands my attention too much for me to be able to focus on anything else.

    interestingly, “suburban war” is track 15 on vinyl (rather than track 9)… which is good, because that makes “month of may” the opener for disc 2. really needed an infusion of energy at that point when i was putting on side 3.

    • Trust me on this, if you don’t take the time to focus on the album, you’re really missing out. Once you get into it, it’ll be just as hard to focus on studying when listening to Funeral, or maybe that’s not what you want, heh…

      There’s definitely been lots of brilliant parts of each song that I never really appreciated on first listen, now they stand out shining. Oh I should mention so far I’ve only listened to a total of 8 or 9 songs, but I rate all of them, half of them really highly.

  38. Given this about ten spins now. I’m trying to separate my immediate, visceral critic from my more cerebral critic. So now I think I can properly evaluate it. I’ll say this straight away – it’s my least favorite Arcade Fire album.

    And I say that only because I have found no immediate, sweeping, emotionally resonant anthems on this disc that move me in the same way that Wake Up, Lies, Keep the Car Running, or No Cars Go do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. It’s a pleasant record, and I recognize that every song is catchy and well written. It hits my brain, but not my stomach. Reginne seems to have the standout tracks this go-around. Hers seem to be the most driving and passionate. I guess that’s my biggest critique of this record – the energy level seems sustainedly more mid-tempo and restrained. The crescendos are delivered at a more measured volume and intensity.

    Like someone said above me, this album will be perfect for reading or studying, but for me it’s never going to be a “lost in the music” cranker like the last two. 6.5 on my scale.

  39. It got 5 stars in Q Magazine (UK). They gave Neon Bible 5 as well. They’re generally a pretty good benchmark of what albums are gonna be “big”, in commericial terms if nothing else. I’m gonna buy this record after work, I’m pretty excited to see the physical release, and also wonder where it will chart in the UK top40.

  40. Suburbs is amazingggg! Also found out that they’re letting fans share their photos online and they might use it at their concert! Pretty cool!

  41. This album is superb and with definitely stand the test of time. People may be divided over it as of now but in the long run it will be a classic…mark my words.

  42. Often with a leaked album, as different songs come through at different times, and it’s difficult to see it as one context. To be honest, when I had cheated and heard 4-6 different songs last week, I really had little enthusiasm to go out and buy the album, but I did.

    When I got home from work yesterday, I only remembered that it was in my car about 4 or 5 hours later. And then I remembered, and without even planning on focussing on the album, I stuck it on…

    It’s incredible- so far. I’m going over and over the first 6 songs and they are everything when put together, tension building epic anthems that are somehow deep and personal. Some of the themes aren’t exactly original, and there’s definitely riffs and melodies that easily could’ve been discarded, but this album so far has a heart and real depth, and for the most part brilliant music.

    I’ve only just read the review now, and when I started listening last night I made the decision to work through the album gradually, because unless an album is like Mellon Collie or The White Album (where each song is so incredibly different they sound like greatest hits) 16 songs is a lot to get through, and I don’t want to feel that middle “bridge” part that may seem to connect the real focal points of this CD, without giving every song a chance.

    That said, a friend of mine told me I absolutely had to listen to Sprawl to get an idea of how horrible this album could be, and I think that song is incredible and perhaps better then the first 6 I’ve listened to so far.

    As for the trolls perverse infatuation with replying to 80% of the posts, you’ve made your point several times and were clearly looking for a shoulder to cry on so you could explain what a great guy you are! Who hasn’t seen this type of troll? Start off abusive and then start to show what a shensitive shoul you are underneath. And I agree with the guy up above, you may be so deluded you don’t realise you’re a troll.

    I fed it. My bah.

  43. At first I was taking too long to just enjoy the theme and concept and sound all at once, so after my second listen I was really falling for the sound and theme all at once.

    Again another fantastic EPIC album by Arcade Fire, I hate to use to the word epic all the time but this truly is a great anthem and sound. I felt it all around as I began to think of my own suburb upbringing and by remembering who this band is.

    Great first listen, Epic second… third probablly mind blowing

  44. you can begin to like just about anything if you feed it to yourself enough.

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