Arcade Fire out indies themselves again

Photo courtesy of Merge Records

Kale Walch, Staff writer

In their third album, “The Suburbs,” Arcade Fire has crafted much more than an album of smooth and beautiful sound; they created another piece of smart and cynical social commentary. Here, the audience sees the once young and optimistic Arcade Fire growing up.

After Arcade Fire’s first and finest album, “Funeral,” I assumed that the band had nothing important left to say, no unique sounds left to produce. My premature assumptions were once again proven incorrect. The Suburbs was an entirely different album than its predecessors.

Arcade Fire has replaced the optimism and bliss of its youth with cynicism and quiet desperation. In the title track, The Suburbs, frontman Win Butler screams about his regret of the past, and his desperation to do something with the future, repeating the phrase: “I’m moving past the feeling again.

Arcade Fire spent two years recording the album, which clearly paid off. Every track has been passionately polished and remixed, with attention to the small details.

My favorite track on the album, “Modern Man,” stands apart from the others. Drummer Jeremy Gara keeps a rhythm on this track that stops and picks up again seamlessly, enthralling and engaging the listener. Smooth, buttery guitar riffs reminiscent of “The XX” surround the audience.

As with the previous two Arcade Fire albums, the string section plays a significant role in the success of many tracks, chief among these “Half Light I” and “Half Light II.”

Perhaps the most critically acclaimed portion of The Suburbs comes at the end, in two epic acts: “Sprawl I,” and “Sprawl II.” Here, Arcade Fire revisits their childhood, returning to the place of their youth, only to find sadness and defeat in the time wasted.

To top off an already exceptional album, Arcade Fire threw in an equally impressive music video.  Music video director Chris Milk is known for his unique perspective, and he didn’t disappoint with the music video for Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait,” titled: “The Wilderness Downtown.” Using Google Earth, Milk has masterfully created an interactive experience. Check it out at thewildernessdowntown.com.