8.20.2010

Friday music album talk

Have you heard Arcade Fire's new album the Suburbs, released at the beginning of the month?

In the last year or more, I've become aware of the band and heard their music. Their previous two albums are definitely in the better tier of music. Their newest album snuck up on me and I heard about it after it had already reached #1 in several countries. Since I got it earlier this week I've played it through 4 or 5 times.

The first song is great. On the first listen, I thought if it keeps this up the album will be great. I like the piano and the developing mood as the song progresses and instruments rise and fall from the foreground.



Then the rest of the album is not particularly memorable. It's fine music, it just doesn't have that punch or is particularly interesting.


In their first album, the songs were independent of each other and most were good and interesting enough to make listening to the whole thing rewarding. In their second album, the songs built off each other, only a few could really stand alone, and the album has a plot with a satisfying climax. Fifty minuets of great music and there's a story that goes somewhere, count me in!

However in this one, the whole middle, all but the three songs at the beginning and end, seems to sag. After five listens the beginning and ending of the album along with the song where they sing "Rococo" over and over again are the only parts I can recall from memory. Skipping to the middle of the songs and playing a few seconds now, there are perhaps three other songs that also stand out, in particular Surburban War and Month of May.

I'm actually a bit disappointed. In the lead song they introduce the interesting snippet of "sometimes I can't believe it/ I'm moving past the feelin'" along with a descending melody; it's pretty catchy. I feel like they dropped the ball--that could have been developed into a motif played with and developed throughout the album for a result perhaps something like Quadrophenia. In fact they bring it back at the conclusion of the album in a minor key, deliciously wistfully as the guy sings adds about how something like 'if he could get all the time back, he'd just waste it again'. Man, do I know that feeling and I wish they'd done something with it. It's a fine bookend but it seems wasted on the middle that's there.

But then again, this album is called the Suburbs so maybe they're getting meta and wanted to sprawl over 63 minuets with okay music that doesn't stand out or seem to go anywhere.

In the end, I want to like the album. It looks like it's gotten good reviews, at least four stars and above 8/10's.

I find that often I really have to get to know music well before I can hear more than just the prominent lyrics. Perhaps with a few more listens, it'll open up as I catch the words.

So have any of you listened to it? Thoughts?