Album Review: Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

After releasing two highly praised albums in six years, Arcade Fire has raised the bar once again with their newest release, The Suburbs.  Husband and wife duo, Will Butler and Régine Chassagne, guided Arcade Fire to commercial and critical success with their edgy, emotionally charged debut LP, Funeral in 2004 and an equally brooding, overtly political follow-up album, Neon Bible in 2007.  The Suburbs, released in August, is no less compelling in its musicality and message than its predecessors.

Musically, The Suburbs branches out from Arcade Fire’s usual minor focus. “Month of May” is constructed as a standard punk-rock anthem; electronic undertones and a heavy bass drives “Half Light II (No Celebration)”; and syncopated beats give “Modern Man” a subtle pop feel. But there are plenty of tracks that stay true to Arcade Fire’s trademark sound.  “Suburban War” and “City With No Children” both demonstrate the heavily orchestrated, layered sound typical of the band.

Arcade Fire has always walked a fine line between lyrical calls to justice and sweeping, heavy-handed political statements. But somehow, The Suburbs has escaped this tension. Thematically, the album is not bogged down with the same heartache and angst as Funeral or Neon Bible.  However, Butler and Chassagne still have an agenda.  As indicated by the album title, The Suburbs is packed with lyrically wistful tracks about forgotten childhood and finding value in the mundane.  A prime example is heard in “Wasted Hours” as Butler croons, “You watched the life you’re living disappear / and now I see, we’re still kids in the buses longing to be free.”

91.1 The Globe has been featuring a number of tracks from The Suburbs since its release, but typical to any Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs begs for a full-length experience. This album is certainly worth the purchase.