Great artists tend to be pretty sensitive. I mean, the novelist Claire Messud had a similar reaction during a pretty friendly interview earlier this year, since she felt she was being treated like a “woman writer” rather than just a writer. And just think about *every single moment* of Don’t Look Back.
Because what the world needs now is another washed-up alt rocker copyright troll, like I need a hole in my head.
The lyrics to Arcade Fire songs often allude or echo the lyrics of other songs on the album in weirdly poetic ways. For example: compare “Ocean of Noise” & the rising sea metaphore in “Windowpane.” For example: all the driving imagery in the Suburbs, or how getting pulled over by the police in “Sprawl I” echoes running away from the police in “Sprawl II.” If anything, Arcade Fire lyrics are kind of underrated, partially because they seem pretty lame when heard out of the album’s context.
#1 is exactly right. The rest: whaaaaa???
I’ve been listening to the Afghan Whigs since the 90s, and this album in particular is one of the few from the era that I still continue to enjoy. It belongs in the special canon of records like Yeezus that perfectly capture the very worst of the male psyche, that weird pride-injured combination of arrogance and neediness.
This was a shocking album to hear in the 7th grade. At the time, I didn’t really know what to make of it, other than that it was telling me the world was way more weird and horrible than I had imagined. Now, I tend to think of the album as being about a guy trying to get his moral bearings, but failing. To me, these lyrics from “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” are at the heart of the whole thing:
Hate, hate your enemies
Save, save your friends
Find, find your place
Speak, speak the truth
These are good values. He’s trying to convince himself to follow them. But he can’t. He basically just keeps on collapsing into being a self-hating mess (“What is wrong with me?”). What do we get out of it? Whatever we get out of any tragedy, I guess. And unlike Yeezus, there’s no “Bound 2″ to wink and take the edge off at the end.
I’m not much of a Drive-By Truckers fan, but I loved Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. It has to be one of the most underrated albums I know. So yeah, that album will “win over prospective converts,” as you say — or at least it won over me.
Ok, on second listen, the album is making more sense. If you’re looking for an emotional context, I think it’s the feeling of just kind of feeling world weary and not being able to connect to the things you used to love and wanting to get that back. At least that’s a clear theme in the lyrics, and I think that’s what’s going on behind the restless combination of kinda-depressing soft-disco and weird left-turn moves in the music. For a comparison, maybe think of stuff like 808 & Heartbreak or Kaputt. It’s Daft Punk’s dark-night-of-the-soul record.
Naturally, the marketing campaign for this wasn’t, “hey everybody, get excited, and get ready to dance, because Daft Punk is coming back, with an all new album ABOUT DEPRESSION.”
It’d make more sense to give them the benefit of the doubt if Human After All and the Tron soundtrack weren’t also disappointing.
Human, all too human.