Winter For An Hour

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I’m afraid it’s a case of subpar instead of superb for ‘The Suburbs’. I’ve spent 2 long days in its company and can’t get over the feeling of huge disappointment, can’t get over how tired it all sounds. How could a collective that was so incredible initially (and terrific in the case of the follow up) struggle to attain just above average. The band we see before us haven’t altered that radically since 2004 but now their songs stretch a single idea to breaking point instead of unlocking another treasure chest of possibilities. When the idea turns bad it’s worse and we’re left with absolute stinkers like ‘Month of May’. Even peaks such as ‘Suburban War’ and ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’ don’t fully thrill, they are fine songs but the magic of yore is absent. The pacing is all over the place; a bit odd considering many of the songs themselves hardly change gear (we’re talking in an Arcade Fire sense here). It’s also overlong, features too much Win (and not enough Régine) and suffers by being a concept piece about a dreadfully boring topic that stays that way despite being in the hands of such cunning performers. Even more worrying is the fact that it appears as if the Arcade Fire have stopped being themselves and turned into Springsteen (and on occasion Built To Spill, Neil Young and somewhat bizarrely for a few moments like the mighty MBV) – all well and good but I preferred it when they blazed their own trail, I mean that’s why we bought into them in the first place isn’t it? All told ‘The Suburbs’ is still pretty decent but it’s impossible not to be critical when expectations have been raised so high on the back of their previous records. Hopefully rejuvenation is around the block but for the moment a move to the bright lights of the city is critical. KD

Arcade Fire – Suburban War

More Info: Official & Myspace
Buy Songs: The Suburbs For $3.99!
Year: 2010

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12 Comments

  1. August 4, 2010
    Reply

    This is sort of reminiscent of MGMT…indie hipster rockers become stars after their second album (Oracular Spectacular, Neon Bible), which has incredible music and tremendous mass appeal, before releasing a third album that’s just plain weak. Did they get lazy? Did they forget the fans? Did they run out of ideas?

    I don’t know about Arcade Fire, but I know that after seeing MGMT live post-Congratulations, I’ll never listen to their shit again.

  2. August 4, 2010
    Reply

    Avi – if you were go by the majority of reviews thusfar you’d be led to believe that Arcade Fire had somehow surpassed even their own high standards. Sadly to my ears at least the Suburbs is a diluted effort,lacking the bands undoubted spark and imagination. So disappointing.

  3. Anonymous
    August 4, 2010
    Reply

    i disagree. i thought neon bible was dissapointing. i really like the suburbs…

  4. August 4, 2010
    Reply

    Anon – perhaps a tad disappointing compared to Funeral, a solid gold classic next to the Suburbs however.

  5. turingpest
    August 5, 2010
    Reply

    i completely agree. i’ve been somewhat puzzled, although not necessarily entirely surprised, by the amount of generous reviews that the suburbs has been getting. it’s uneven in terms of songwriting, definitely overlong (i’d have cut four or five songs) and is failing to hold my interest after only a few days. it’s a shame, as we know what they can do when they burn brighter – i didn’t care too much for neon bible, but i believe that funeral is one of the best albums ever made.

  6. August 5, 2010
    Reply

    Agree with a lot of this. I’m stunned at the reviews it has received – the BBC said it was better than OK Computer, the Sunday Times suggested it was the album of the decade!? Maybe they got a different version than the rest of us…

    As good as it is (there are some great songs on it), it is simply overlong and a little uninteresting in parts. It lags in the middle and the album is lacking in a real influence from Regine. Her appearance on “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains” is the highlight for me.

    I have my own full length review @ http://bullblacknova.blogspot.com/2010/07/album-review-arcade-fire-suburbs.html if anyone is interested.

  7. August 5, 2010
    Reply

    If this is one of the highlights of the album, then it really can’t be that good. Booooorrring.

    Sorry my contribution here isn’t more insightful. :)

  8. turingpest
    August 5, 2010
    Reply

    agree about Regine’s influence Kevin – Empty Room is also a corker. and yeah, it’s not all bad. in fact it’s a reasonably good album, but it certainly doesn’t live up to the hype, or to what they’re capable of.

  9. Anonymous
    August 5, 2010
    Reply

    I think that all of the over-hype and the fact that it is presented as a kind of concept album is creating the disappointed feelings here. A “concept album” – and the comparisons to epic albums like OK Computer – influences us to think of the album more completely; whereas I feel like with other albums if there are 4-5 great songs it’s basically a great album. The Suburbs has at least 4 great songs, in my opinion – songs that will stay on my playlist probably forever; therefore I’m happy with it. And this is pretty much how I feel about their previous albums as well. But if I try to start thinking of it as a complete “concept album” or compare it to some of the all time greats, I would start to agree with these reviews – but I don’t think it’s necessary to do that.

  10. August 5, 2010
    Reply

    Sorry, but since when do mainstream music critics (BBC, Sunday Times) know what the hell they’re talking about?

    I tend to take the stance, when it comes to reviews of films and music, that the dissenting view is right…because the dissenting view tends to be the one that looks at the art from the view of a normal person, without attempting to analyze it like a piece of literature.

    Plebian, maybe. But I love music for the experience, not necessarily the deeper meaning. And a concept album about Suburbs (or, as Pitchfork put it, “the way we live) is just played out.

  11. August 5, 2010
    Reply

    Anon: But the Arcade Fire are/were much more than a 4/5 great song per album band – part of the joy in their previous efforts was the way the LP’s flowed, something that is distinctly lacking on the Suburbs.

  12. screenager
    August 6, 2010
    Reply

    thank you! this is the first review I’ve read which has dared to point out that the suburbs is anything less than ‘perfect’ or ‘a masterpiece’. I had high expectations and have been hugely disappointed, and its nice to see that I’m not the only one… maybe I’m missing something but it just hasn’t done anything for me.

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