Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Arcade Fire - Sprawl II

This month the Grammys happened. While all the fake musicians patted themselves on the back for doing a terrible job, doing their best to convince themselves that they were more than just corporate prostitutes, something interesting happened, “The Suburbs,” won the album of the year.

Because of this development I gave a closer look. After looking over all the nominees for this year’s “best album,” all I can think is now could anything but “The Suburbs,” win? It was the only remotely good album nominated. All insults towards popular culture aside, I’m just happy someone artistic, creative, and good is beating the odds and getting the recognition they deserve, way to go Arcade Fire, you’re so damned awesome that even the brainwashed can’t ignore how great you are, and for that I applaud you.

“The Suburbs,” is fantastic, and worthy of album of the year, I mean no one is going to nominate “The Wicked Symphony,” so I’ll never be completely satisfied, but I’ll take what I can get, and if I had to pick a close second it would have been “The Suburbs.”

“The Suburbs” flows like “Funeral,” something that was lost somewhat in “Neon Bible,” so this again makes picking out an individual song difficult, but that’s not the only thing it has in common with “Funeral,” the narrative content is very similar in many ways. Remove the fantastic element of the frozen post apocalyptic world, and you have “The Suburbs.” A much more realistic story emerges, with the element of children growing up and feeling alone a returning theme. One critic stated that Win Butler’s musings on the topic of growing up in “The Suburbs,” doesn’t yield enough content to fill a sixteen track concept album, and all I have to say to that critic is, listen to the album, clearly no problem. If something more is being said in the narrative then just Win’s reflection of his youth it eludes me, this seems an album of self reflection on one’s own childhood and nothing more. Growing up is something we all do, so unsurprisingly, there is plenty content within the album we can all relate too.

I was very impressed with Regina Chassagne on this album. The wife of Win Butler and backup singer for the group, (I’m pretty sure she plays piano on some songs as well), she really steps up in my opinion. On “Funeral,” she was very much a backup singer, but her involvement has been growing, and I thought it was something to note on “The Suburbs” that two of my favourite songs on the album had her taking the lead vocals.

I really like the beat and feel of “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” a really good song about not fitting in, and an interesting celebration therein. So that is my song to represent “The Suburbs,” it was a hard choice, but I really like this song, especially the childlike view of the city and the people in it, it is one of the things Arcade Fire does best, remembering the awe and wonder we felt when we were young.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly

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