I have listened to “The Suburbs” over and over again and each time I am left with a greater appreciation than before, which is a quality that cannot be said of many of today’s over played tunes. This Montreal indie rock band is led by husband-and-wife team Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, along with Richard Reed Parry, William Butler, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gar.
The band made their debut in 2004 with “Funeral,” followed by “Neon Bible” in 2007. Both albums discuss the need to escape as a child, but in “The Suburbs” they are returning to their places of upbringing. This third installment aims higher than past albums with an intense exploration on the topic of suburbia through 16 like-themed tracks.
Arcade Fire has a miraculous method of transforming intimate conversations into rock anthems with an epic backdrop of pounding drums, guitar strings and piano keys.
It is clear that Butler and the rest of the band looked to their roots amid creating “The Suburbs,” however their thoughts on the subject can be contradictory throughout the tracks.
At points the band seems to be merely criticizing suburban life and the sprawl of strip malls that America has become. But then there is a point where Butler opens up and sees suburban family life from possibly his parents’ perspectives, ditching the adolescent escapism he sings about in the band’s first two albums.
Throughout this album, Butler reflects on old-fashioned times of hand-written letters and criticizes the modern kid, claiming that he lives in a city with no children in it.
He sings of his trouble trusting people, whether it be a businessman, a millionaire, or even kids with whom he had an art class with once upon a time. He makes the realization that maybe he does not trust anyone nor has he found his true identity yet.
This lost identity is portrayed calmly, as something far from a crisis, and brings up the idea that finding one’s identity may be the main struggle in life, but a struggle that can be overcome.
Meanings aside, “The Suburbs” is a beautiful collection of melodies that is unsurprisingly among the top-25 albums on iTunes and has transformed Arcade Fire into one of the top alternative bands of this generation.
Silicon Valley fans can catch Arcade Fire on tour, in Berkeley at the Greek Theatre on Oct. 2 and 3.
by Calli Perez