Album Review The Suburbs★★★★
Arcade Fire, a band known to college students and American and Canadian intelligentsia for its existential listlessness, released The Suburbs on August 3, an album that may very well musically mark the 20-something generation.
The Suburbs is a social commentary on western middle class life - specifically, how suburban life sucks the integrity and individuality from a person. The album reaches those who yearn for something more than average living, who understand the uneasy feeling associated with the Pleasantville concept and who have felt the draw of city life.
In "Modern Man," a song about fleeting youth and finding oneself in a harsh culture, lead singer Win Butler sings, "In my dream I was almost there/ Then you pulled me aside and said you're going nowhere/ They say we are the chosen few but we're wasted." The singer is harbored in a culture that refuses to make way for such "modern men."
This is contrasted with the song "Rococo," an almost sneeringly upbeat, carnival-like track that has both explicit and implicit commentary on hipster culture. The band sings, "They seem wild but they are so tame/ They're moving towards you with their colors all the same/ They want to own you but they don't know what game they're playing," revealing the belief that the subjects of their lyrics are just as lost as the narrating characters. Instead of finding themselves, they are concerned with the latest trends.
Within the album there also seems to be a strong commentary on the music scene itself and how it is torn apart by partisanship. Perhaps this is a part of the speaker's own experiences as a child with the importance of music in social groups, or with Arcade Fire's experience as an extremely successful indie band that struggles to push through the barrier that traditional mainstream music has erected.
Though having an album devoted to lost youth and dreams may seem banal, The Suburbs is as uplifting as it is depressing - depressing in that we as a society are disillusioned, but all disillusioned together.