Painting working-class ennui in broad strokes, Arcade Fire’s latest album is a giant, loud, exhilarating ride through tales of going nowhere, fast.
Arcade Fire have never been a subtle band, and The Suburbs, their third full-length, continues their attempts to steal the throne of everyman chroniclers from the likes of Springsteen. In their Suburbs, cars either won’t start or break down, the kids are plagued with wanderlust, businessmen are vampires to be avoided at all costs, and the only solace from the sprawl comes from dancing to the record player in the glow of the television.
The Suburbs has a handful of songs — “Half Light II (No Celebration)” and “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” specifically — with heavier bass riffs and more pulse than one might expect from the band behind “Keep the Car Running.” The true thrill of the record comes in the way these moments are juxtaposed with the plaintive narratives of the title track (which returns as a record-closing dirge), filling The Suburbs with the highest highs and the lowest lows of the group’s history.
, and watch a live stream of the band’s Madison Square Garden concert on Thursday night.