Continuing on my "Week of Catching Up" here's the first of two album reviews for the week, Arcade Fire's third and latest album, The Suburbs, which released earlier this month without me realizing until a few days later. Regardless, the albums here, it's been here the whole month, so how's it holding up after all this time? Read on to find out, you may actually like this review!
In short, really well actually. With the first two Arcade Fire albums (I came into the band's music kind of late) I really liked them at first, and would listen to both together a lot, but after a while of listening to other things, I found them hard to get back into. When I got The Suburbs, I was really into it and already charted up play counts that surpass both of the band's first two albums combined, and I think that says a lot. Since then, however, I've spent a lot of this month listening to Anamanaguchi and Talking Heads, and didn't get back into this album until I decided to finally review it today, and it's still holding up just fine.
What's more interesting about the play-count feat though, is that this album is an hour long, as opposed to the just over 45 minute lengths of both 2004's Funeral and 2007's Neon Bible; that means I've done more listening of this hour-long album in the past month than I have of the previous 90 minutes in the past year. Instead of my usual album rundown, I'm just going to post a few highlights in track order, so, some tracks may be skipped.
The titular track and album opener, "The Suburbs," starts out this concept album perfectly, giving you a sense of a dramatic suburban tour, really setting the mood for the rest of the album, and is now one of my favorite tracks from the band. "Ready To Start" continues with this vibe, while "Modern Man" feels like something of Funeral. Passing on a few tracks, I found "City With No Children" to sound like a Bruce Springsteen song, except you know, appealing... And then you have a rock heavy track like "Month of May" which sounds like something the White Stripes would come up with if they had more than just Jack and Meg, not that that's bad or anything.
Unlike a lot of albums I've listened to, I found that The Suburbs didn't die out near the end of the album. If anything, it dies down mid-way after "Month of May" and then quickly brings itself together in the wonderful "We Used To Wait" after two slower tracks. But my favorite track comes after "Sprawl I," you guessed it, "Sprawl II," which sounds like a mix of "Haiti" off of Funeral and "Heart of Glass" by Blondie; actually, it sounds a lot like Blondie, and for whatever reason hearing new 80's style synth-pop sounds really appealing in the context of this album, and for that I love it, and it's the longest track too, which is a plus when it sounds this good.
What I love about this album, is that it really works as an album. What I find with a lot of records nowadays is that there's never a universal thing that holds them together; you have a few great tracks, and then some boring throwaway material. But with The Suburbs, I find that I really prefer listening to it as a whole on loop, as opposed to being shuffled with the rest of the Arcade Fire tracks. And by having the track rundown that fades in the middle, as opposed to starting strong and dying out at the end, makes it that much more appealing to listen to as a whole because you're not just going through waiting for the good parts, as the album supports itself from beginning to end. If you've never listened to Arcade Fire before, nows a great time to start.
Overall Score: 9.7/10
Now, here's the thing, I agree that like most things, everyone has there own tastes and not one single thing can be considered perfect. And when it comes to music there's definitely a lot more debate in that department. But, in this one instance, I'm going finally award the first VFH Seal of Approval to an album because it's just that good, and just that much better from the band's previous albums. (And this is almost still the month the album was released in...) Now, what happens when they release another album that's "better"? You ask? Well, judging by the three year gaps between each album, I guess I'll have to worry about that then, and who knows if we'll still be online by that time. For now, I'll enjoy this wonderful record.
Note: The album actually has eight different cover art variations, the one pictured is just the one I happen to have.