Revisiting his childhood home in Houston, Texas, Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler found the underlying theme for the Montreal-based art-rock collective's new August 3 album The Suburbs. Perhaps it was simply part of the process of growing older and coming to grips with the past. Maybe it was the needed escape to his roots after a grueling 100-city worldwide tour in support of the 2007 Neon Bible project. But for whatever reason, Butler found inspiration in the concept of growing up rediscovering one's own sense of place -- a concept that connects with the band's own meteoric rise since their 2004 debut Funeral. Near-universal critical acclaim and a pair of Grammy nominations for Funeral and Neon Bible have helped make The Suburbs one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of 2010.
And for good reason. Few bands are able to straddle their influences -- in this case, primarily angular Anglo 80's rock a la Echo and Bunnymen and David Bowie -- and a distinctive sound of their own with such creative authority and finesse. Arcade Fire have the ability to sound grandly progressive without pomp and artsy posing as well as an appreciation for the power of dense, grinding (and melodic) rock coupled with propulsive rhythmic thrust. New songs such as first single "Ready to Start" and "Month of May" have a relentless but swinging drive at their core, a combination of in-your-face New Order-ish bass-lines, arena-friendly guitars and the occasional dab of synth or string sweetening layered on top. It is, says Butler, a mix that allows the album to lie between of what he calls "these extremes": "a rock'n'roll thing" and "more electronics." Highly recommended.
Arcade Fire - "Ready to Start" (from the album The Suburbs)
Arcade Fire - "Month of May" (from the album The Suburbs)
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