Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Albums of 2010: #8: The Suburbs

#8: 'The Suburbs' by Arcade Fire

I often drift into High Fidelity mode and ponder my ever-shifting top albums of all time which generally consists of records of days-gone-by; Bowie, Stevie, Joy Division et al. A smattering of contenders post-2000 appear every once in a while but none more consistently than Arcade Fire and, more specifically, their mind blowing debut 'Funeral'. Easily my most revisited album of the decade about to pass, Arcade Fire came together as several odd Canadians to change indie pop into something more meaningful, creating concept albums that defy the logic of concept albums.

2010 bought their third offering, an album full of the heartbreak and heartwarmth of adolescence, catching that ethos of youth so precisely, it's almost impossible to see Win, Regine and friends as fully grown adults. 'The Suburbs' veers from chipper piano to sweepingly somber orchestral fluttering, taking the listener on a teenage dream of a journey from start to finish. The concept floats from the enclosed entrapment of the so called suburbs, dreaming of escape and excitement, to the trials and tribulations of a career driven lifestyle dicated within 'We Used To Wait', where a longing for a more secure and restless time is pumped out via new wave chords and a subdued piano piece.

Arcade Fire manage to weave between genre landmarks, from the 'Heroes' sound-a-like of 'Half Light II (No Celebration)' to the laidback Americana musings of 'Wasted Hours', whilst some form of indie electro dances about on 'Sprawl II', ending up with a style and sound echoing a pot-head Blondie. Here lies the ultimate success of 'The Suburbs', with 16 tracks somehow managing to sound brisk, fresh and breezy whilst summing up every youthful triumph, mistake, opportunity and experience, using a veritable smorgasbord of sounds, instruments and ideas in order to reach the widest range of recipients, diving headfirst into their brain and yanking on all of the musical memories until something hurts.

Arcade Fire are a group with their wits about them, crafting three modern and intelligent albums that hark back whilst evoking utter emotion with an unexplainable ease. And on top of all this, they work with numerous charities, gig incessantly and manage to create videos that interact with your location and push the boundaries of what is possible with technology, music and visuals. Arcade Fire have ruled the noughties with a soft and gentle touch; it is difficult to see where else they can go, but it will be damned exciting to watch them wander.

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