Arcade Fire's journey away from the critically acclaimed Funeral
has led them through the more straightforward Neon Bible
to arrive at the less straightforward and ultimately confusing The Suburbs
Naturally when an album is only a few weeks old in our minds it's difficult to ascertain whether we'll still be loving it in twelve month's time. When Radiohead released OK Computer
it was almost impossible to ignore that the record clearly had something, but also that it had obvious depth both musically and lyrically - the quality of the playing could be enjoyed separately from the melodies, or arrangements or lyrics. Each aspect seemed to go together perfectly, yet you could also focus on one aspect or another. To my mind that inspires long-term listening, picking up various different facets of an album over time.
is clearly an important work from one of the most important bands around today. Yet for all the beauty demonstrated by "Suburban War" (most notably), and the powerful likes of "Ready to Start" or "Modern Man", I'm sensing a lack of 'something'. It's not lyrical, the lyrics are often superb. Musically the playing is competent enough but you wouldn't really call it impressive - the production work in the studio compensates, and the clever simplicity of many of the melodies doesn't really require virtousity from the musicians.
So what's wrong? I think at the end of the day the album just isn't much fun. Oh, you could say the same about many albums and artists. Were Joy Division 'fun'? Well, perhaps not always, but next to the sadness there was romance, there were paintings in black and white, artistry, and jerky fun with the likes of "Transmission" or "She's Lost Control".
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
(blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews