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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

We Read the Arcade Fire Reviews (And Collected Their Best Lines) So You Don't Have To

Posted By on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 1:49 PM

click to enlarge Are you a yea, or nay?
  • Are you a yea, or nay?
I came this close (<-->) to committing my own gushing, laudatory thoughts on the Arcade Fire's new album The Suburbs (out today) to type. Then I saw how many other gushing, laudatory thoughts had already been published, blogged and tweeted. So rather than walk you through yet another argument about why this album fucking rules (and it does), let's instead take a tour of some of the best lines (both laudatory and negative) from the smorgasbord of reviews on the web:

British site The Quietus did an impressionistic walk-through of each of the album's tracks. Its most solemn moment discusses the song "Sprawl I":

A minor key piano lament to the lack of time left, this feels like a trip round an old neighbourhood, and the slowly-dawning realisation that the building one is looking for has long since been demolished. The hope of the day is then suddenly replaced by melancholy.

New York Daily News gave The Suburbs two-and-a-half stars, taking down the Arcade Fire's ambitious third album with lines like:

All the subsequent bitching about "the death of everything that's wild" and houses that "hide so much," can seem as worn as yet another rant against Wal-Mart ... Unfortunately, the molasses-thick production and maximalist arrangements create a sprawl of their own.

J. Edward Keys at 17 Dots writes a lengthy, thorough examination of the album, which ends up sounding mostly positive:

Arcade Fire have become indie rock's last great hope of finally expanding outside the boho bar scene and into something like normal middle America -- squeezing accordions and banging bass drums and blowing oboes and playing whatever it is the guy with the helmet plays as they parade past the carcasses of Interpol and Bloc Party onward to the victory of the packed arena.

Spin (predictably, and eloquently) gives the album four-and-a-half stars:

Radiant with apocalyptic tension and grasping to sustain real bonds, The Suburbs extends hungrily outward, recalling the dystopic miasma of William Gibson's sci-fi novels and Sonic Youth's guitar odysseys. Desperate to elude its own corrosive dread, it keeps moving, asking, looking, and making the promise that hope isn't just another spiritual cul-de-sac.

But Zach Baron at the Village Voice has to search for nonmusical reasons to like the Arcade Fire:

This is a genuine attempt to understand something that we know we ought to but decidedly don't: why do people like the Arcade Fire so much? Because we don't, and never have, and we're tired of just listening to The Suburbs and feeling confused and vaguely irritated.

In my view, though, Pitchfork's Ian Cohen gets the album just about right in the site's Best New Music (8.6/10!) review:

You'd figure an album bluntly called The Suburbs that focuses on The Way We Live might repeat some of Neon Bible's worst tendencies. Instead, it's a satisfying return to form-- proof that Arcade Fire can still make grand statements without sounding like they're carrying the weight of the world.

There you have it -- arguments both for the album's greatness and against its grandiosity. So nourished, go forth and argue its merits. First shot: If you think it sucks, you're wrong. But if you -- yes you, Zach Baron -- just don't get it, or the band, well, we feel sorry for you.

Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown and @iPORT

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Ian S. Port

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