For several years, my friends and I lamented the lack of any rock bands on the horizon that would craft work as substantial and meaningful as The Beatles, The Stones, Pink Floyd, U2, and REM?
Was Radiohead really going to be the last of the visionary bands?
Sure, there were some impressive acts in the interim.
But where was the band that would write prophecy? Weave melodies and music that were more than audacity and noise, that were interacting in meaningful ways with the lyrics? Where were the visionaries who cared about more than nostalgia, hooks, and hits? Which band was going to inspire a passionate following who were more excited about the vision than the band’s personalities?
Some argued that it was Coldplay. Sorry, I haven’t been convinced. They’re following too closely in predecessors’ footsteps, and I have yet to hear lyrics from them that sound like world-changers.
Then Arcade Fire delivered Funeral. A bunch of us said, “This might be that band.”
The concerts threw fuel on the fire. Something new was dawning. A brave new sound and vision.
Then came Neon Bible, an album that fulfilled our hopes. U2 even played “Wake Up” over the speakers to draw the crowd into the right spirit before their shows on the Vertigo tour, and it became the perfect anthem for the first trailer of Where The Wild Things Are, its lyrics perfectly capturing that film’s themes.
And now, the early reviews of The Suburbs make it sound like Arcade Fire has accomplished what few bands ever do: Three remarkable albums in a row, albums that are cohesive in their vision, albums that work together like chapters in a novel.
I can’t wait to hear The Suburbs, especially after reading this review from Spin…
If Arcade Fire’s ragtag debut, Funeral, found its ecstatic force by celebrating the elusive comforts of community (hence four songs with the word neighborhood in the title), and 2007’s aggrieved, galvanizing Neon Bible powered forth in opposition to the hollow sparkle of church, state, and celebrity, then the harder, denser The Suburbs burns on behalf of the belief that modern culture is missing its heart — and to give up the search is to send one’s soul to oblivion.
Or, in Suburbs speak, to the Sprawl, where everything is connected but nothing ever touches.
And BBC Music says
The Suburbs is their most thrillingly engrossing chapter yet; a complex, captivating work that, several cycles down the line, retains the magic and mystery of that first tentative encounter. You could call it their OK Computer. But it’s arguably better than that.
For the first time in a while, I’m willing to hope that the heart of rock and roll is still beating.