Canada’s Arcade Fire—one of the world’s most beloved modern rock bands—put out their new album “The Suburbs” today on Merge Records. After a few strategically released mp3 downloads to stir the pot a bit, the band’s third album—the follow-up to two of the most talked –about releases of last decade—should be able to accomplish what “Neon Bible” just missed, and debut comfortably at no. 1 on the Billboard 200.
If this happens, it would be a major victory for many. It would be a victory for Arcade Fire fans (though some of them may not think so—people like to have things to themselves, you know). It would be a victory for bands like Arcade Fire who work their asses off in the bleakest industry climate possible. Obviously, it would be a victory to Arcade Fire themselves. More than anything, though, it’s a victory for anyone who appreciates the value of really good music—not just good music, but real music.
Even if you are not a fan of Arcade Fire, their good intentions can’t be denied. Whether you like the stuff they produce or not, they are in it for the right reasons—because they love doing it, and because they’re good at it. As a result, many people have come to recognize this—SO many, in fact, that the band is almost getting too big for their britches. Almost…and it has seemed that way for awhile…but they always manage to avoid the big burst.
This is what I love about this band. Right now, I’m only a casual Arcade Fire listener—I have recognized their greatness at times, but I have never been able to really let myself go with it. But witnessing their buildup and the way they have handled it so gracefully—the obvious pressure the behemoth they have created is putting on them, for example—while continuing to put out music that just keeps getting better and better and better is pretty much awe-inspiring. Most bands would buckle right away with album number two and try to produce a bunch of hits. I guess that’s what’s so great about being on an indie label like Merge—they don’t expect as much or spend as much as a major, really. Or at least they didn’t before AF’s “Funeral” became the first Merge album to enter the Billboard 200. After “The Suburbs” debuts at no. 1, who knows what sort of wringer Merge will have in store for our Canadian heroes for their 4th album?
Today at work, I listened to all three albums in order of release—“Funeral”, followed by “Neon Bible”, followed by “The Suburbs”. Thinking back on what I heard today, it’s almost surprising that all three albums are from the same band. They are all so different, and each of them so varied within themselves, that I now understand why it took me so long to really get into Arcade Fire—I couldn’t pinpoint them, and that scared me. It scared me because it threatened my feeble musical ego, but as I chip away at that with each passing day and month and year, I am more annoyed at how much great shit I probably missed out on in the past because of all my immature, pre-conceived notions. And the more I get annoyed, the sooner I realize how pointless it is to do so, and then I realize I just have to try to enjoy as much as possible while I can. If I can’t, so be it—that’s just how it works. Some people may not understand why I don’t like, for instance, Lady Gaga. I can’t for the life of me begin to understand how anyone could like her—but, that’s beside the point.
The point is Arcade Fire are poised for the great takeover, and like an expertly planned game of billiards, they have executed it all perfectly. And to top it off, they are a great band with plenty of great songs and original ideas and probably a well’s worth of other awesome shit to come. Well done, ladies and gents—let the rock takeover begin!
If you need more proof of AF’s bohemoth status, check out these performances alongside David Bowie. I mean, seriously, if you can rock with Ziggy and not get turned to stardust, you’re bound for greatness.