Monday, August 2, 2010
I perch on my second-hand couch in a shotgun 1-bedroom flat on Grace Street. The first place of my own on an "artsy" block in this old, slow, charming city. The stylish kids coast down the street on single-speeds. Leashed dogs pad down the sidewalk. A lover's pair of cardinals have a nest in the oak in front of my window.
My quartered building is two down from a halfway house, my bike's been stolen, I suffer the August drone of window units, and I make my sandwiches on top of the washer - as it's the only counter-top available.
That's my personal interpretation of The Suburbs, releasing Aug. 3. Read on for something a bit more glossy.
It's a different notso different Arcade album compared to what's come before. Funeral, '04 was our first taste of the massive singalongs influenced by several deaths of relatives to the septet; drenching us in an orgy of instruments - viola, French horn, doublebass, xylophone, glockenspiel and hurdy-gurdy just as appetizer. Neon Bible, '06, a soldier's concept album, was cramped and paranoid; disavowing the things American dreams are made of. The Suburbs, even more so than NB, needs to be listened from start to finish. And it might take a few listens, so dedicate more than a coupla hours to your headphones. Admittedly, I had moments of "they are turning into g-d U2" and "what is this, a Bruce Springsteen relic," but just keep at it, they'll become more themselves. Because see, before Win and Will Butler made their way up to Montreal to set the kindling of Arcade Fire, they grew up in The Woodlands - ridiculously ordinary suburban sprawl of Houston, TX. This piece of information changed them a bit in my eyes. They're not quite so pale, tightroping another dimension. And so we set our stage.
When you first turn in, all you see is the dreamy haze of sprinklers. The music rollingly plinks along "The Suburbs," the sun shines on tow-haired children and cars stay under 25mph.
Drive through a roundabout or two of "Empty Room," and you catch glimpses of angsty, lonely teenagers. Unhappily smoking filched cigarettes, collecting together by ditches lining the manicured hedges. There is wistfulness, a pull of where you come from and where you'd rather be.
By the time you crest the hill of "Half Light," couples are fighting in the driveways after one too many at the neighbors, not noticing their middle child slipping away into the evening. Even the twilight can't keep the edges from being hard and unyielding. No amount of drawn shades can keep the prying eyes away.
But then after all the "Sprawl," dimmed dreams and forgotten teddy-bears in emerald front lawns. You can drive away away, flicking your gaze to the rearview mirror. "If I could have it back, all the time we wasted, I'd only waste it again."
Arcade Fire // Suburban War