The Suburbs

Listen here: If you're going to try to make some grand statement at me, you need to do one of two things: 1. Tell me something I don't know; or 2. Tell me something I already knew, but more eloquently than I've heard it. Just make it the most creative, engrossing story I've heard, that's all.

So The Suburbs, the new album from the Arcade Fire—and which the BBC have claimed might be better than OK Computer—is about aging and modernity. I've read a thing or two about that. I don't think I needed to read The Suburbs.

To be fair: Lead track "The Suburbs" rules—I just didn't need to hear 14 less interesting ways of saying the same thing afterward. The track I left out is "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)," because that song rules, too.

The stuttering guitar line on "Modern Man" and the fist-pumping start-stops on "City With No Children" sound like the most obvious Springsteen allusions in their catalog, and the wasted youth/backs-against-the-wall/no-restraints ethos are all the same. But whenever they show glimpses of a crescendo into the kind of wide-open chorus they threw down on so perfectly on Funeral, they throw up their hands in defeat. Probably wouldn't have sounded as good as "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" anyways.

I enjoy the echoing "The Suburbs (continued)," but I can't help but feeling like we've gotten back to the start without actually having gone anywhere. We drove in a big circle and saw a bunch of the same—not unlike a suburb. My biggest problem is that I can't tell how meta-aware they meant it to be.

The Suburbs tries really hard to be black and white. They mention "sides" over and over, as if there's a clear line between corporate and private in gentrification. And maybe that's what bothers me most about The Suburbs: how linear it is. Maybe it's a comment on the linear path to depression suburban life can create, but you're lying to yourself if you think suburbs are the only pure form of evil. Before there was "Bowling Alone" there was "The Jungle"—modernity has been a problem since we acknowledged it as a reference point, and we've been hearing this same story just as long.

So what do I think of The Suburbs? I think it's too long and too obvious. I'd rather read "Revolutionary Road" again instead.

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