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The Student News Site of Concord-Carlisle Regional High School

The Voice

Concord-Carlisle High School's Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Concord-Carlisle Regional High School

The Voice

Concord-Carlisle High School's Student Newspaper

CD Review: The Suburbs by Arcade Fire

CD+Review%3A+The+Suburbs+by+Arcade+Fire

As someone who was getting more and more bored by new album releases that sounded identical to one another, I was not expecting much from an album with the vague and uninteresting title The Suburbs. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised that this album, the new Arcade Fire album, had the power to completely restore my faith in new music. From the first chord of the first track, The Suburbs transports listeners into its own world. The lyrical content is instantly relatable: not quite a concept album, but a loose narrative that anyone from suburbia can understand. An entire album about growing up in the suburbs appears to be dry subject matter for a rock record, but events never stand still. The “suburban wars” among different cliques of kids growing up and apart (highlighted in the track “Suburban War” – “Now the music divides us into tribes/You grew your hair, so I grew mine”) are constantly discussed amidst an atmospheric instrumental backdrop.

At the same time, the stagnant nature of suburban life is also captured perfectly. The kids in the suburbs all dream of one day escaping their town, but they as they mature, they realize the impracticalities of their dreams. When they drive away from their hometown at night in “Half Light II (No Celebration),” their longing for adventure and youthful spirit is harshly grounded in reality (“When we watched the markets crash, the promises we made were torn”). The idleness of wasting time as a teenager comes up in the stunning “Wasted Hours,” not quite sure what to do with free time, but always “staring out the window,” wanting something more from life but still too young to escape the monotony of a small town.

Musically, Arcade Fire creates a suitable soundscape to fit the lyrics. There is no enormous sing-along anthem like “Wake Up,” but then again, that would not make much sense in this context. The instrumentation of the first track, “The Suburbs,” sets the tone for the entire album – a simple guitar chord progression with soft piano and a constant, straight drumbeat. The music is not intended to be intrusive or take over the song, but it provides just the right amount of mood. From the chugging power chords of obvious future single “Month of May” to the danceable percussion of the synth-based epic “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” the album covers enough musical ground to stay diverse and interesting, but also to remain cohesive. The album is intended to be listened to from start to finish, as it feels more like one distinct musical thought with sixteen movements rather than a collection of sixteen unrelated songs. This is a refreshing change for a rock album, as the album format seems to have been getting lost in the fog recently.

The final song on the album, “The Suburbs (Continued),” begins with the lyric, “If I could have it back/All the time that we wasted/I’d only waste it again.” The same is true of listening to the album, though it hardly feels like wasted time. This is a dynamic drive through suburban life, and arguably the best album of 2010 thus far.

Grade: A

Download These! “The Suburbs,” “Ready to Start,” “Wasted Hours,” “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

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