Sunday, July 25, 2010

Arcade Fire does not sound like Radiohead

People love comparing shit. Raising various comparisons for Arcade Fire's new one, BBC likens the record to the most favoritest album of all critics who don't normally review music, Ok Computer (gasp!), this provocative quote definitively assuring they're quoted across the internets. I've also heard Hold Steady and Depeche Mode used in the same sentence. Neato!

This sounds like a lot of fun actually, so let me throw my hat in the ring. How about Born to Run???? It's no news that Butler adores Springsteen, so naturally the Butlers would go there. The need to escape on highway 9 is no different than the need to get out of the suburbs of Houston (I think?). Frustrated run-ins with police and first loves, jerkoff bullies, malls, boredom... all these are confronted and made much more intense than I remember these experiences being. No matter... Win Butler's always been good at turning relatively mundane experiences into the 'Double Rainbow' of tropes.

(Bonus comment: It might be nice if they incorporated some of Springsteen's groove while they were at it, but of course Win Butler is far too serious for any of that.)

And what of the music? This is an excellent record. Very cohesive, expertly sequenced and feels much more like their second record than Neon Bible. Where Funeral gives voice to frustrated teenage energies across the western world, Neon Bible feels a bit too impersonal... detached and topical in its indictment of everything Institutional. An anti-Bush record for its time. The Suburbs is a giant step forward for this band; this time they handle lyrical negotiations of their past more maturely and confidently.

With The Suburbs, Arcade Fire are ready to handle the personal frustrations of adolescence with the same anxieties heard on Funeral, but with the mature take on institutions of their second release.

Standout tracks: Suburban War, Ready to Start, Half Light 1, Sprawl (Flatland)... (the second Sprawl track could have been lifted verbatim from The Knife's Silent Shout, not that there's anything wrong with that... but the song feels like maybe it belongs on another record... or on the second side to one of it's singles anyways).