Arcade Fire Poised for Great Takeover—Long Live Rock!

Merge 2010

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.

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3 Responses to “Arcade Fire Poised for Great Takeover—Long Live Rock!”

  1. Ian H. Says:

    Great article, Cameron! I’m rediscovering the reasons I fell in love with them via The Suburbs. I had the good luck of being like, 18 when Funeral came out and when I saw them play that show at the Jackpot right after they blew up, I knew I was seeing something special and I knew I wouldn’t ever really see a show like that ever again. Then they got kinda big, played Starlight the next time around and I stopped caring because I was Indie as fuck and, like you, let my snobby ego get in the way of appreciating really good music. I only listened to Neon Bible about a year after it came out and was floored. I mean, they were so set-up to fail! It’s like everyone was going to give them a pass to have a sophomore slump based on how good Funeral was but it was an EXCELLENT record, all caps. Now the Suburbs, which I was SURE was gonna be at least a LITTLE bit of a misstep (because seriously, how can we expect for a band to be consistently great in these times) and it wasn’t at all and I think that’s where the OK Computer references come in. Although I wholly disagree that it’s better than OK Computer, because well, those kind of judgment calls are kind of irrelevant this early in the game. HOWEVER, it works in the comparison to the Arcade Fire being a sort of American Radiohead in terms of growth and genius. Like OK Computer, it’s their third LP, but two after their breakout. I think they’re a completely different animal, Arcade Fire that is, because they’re kind of scary. They’re scary because we have these certain expectations of bands to never be this consistent because of the way the music industry has worked in the past ten years or so. You love a band, they put out a great record and you expect them to fail because well, most bands can’t cope with the pressure or blog culture swallows them whole. The times have changed a LOT since 2004, and Arcade Fire are still surprising people because honestly, who could have expected another brilliant record? I feel bad comparing one record to the next, but you’re right, the canon they’ve created is the stuff of legend. To pull off three excellent albums, all so different from eachother: The bedroom anthems of Funeral, the Springsteen anthems of Neon Bible, and the epic storytelling folk meets a million other things of the Suburbs, well, fuck. It’s like everyone you see hating on the Arcade Fire now immediately looks like a fool because, I mean, come on! This is the new Talking Heads or Radiohead or some other intolerably good band! Good call, Cam! Mighty good!

    • recordgeekheaven Says:

      It is scary. I don’t think we WANT bands to be this consistent. For something to consistently awe us, it almost means we have to admit that we can’t figure it out. And no person wants to do that.

      As for the OK Computer thing, I can see how the trajectory of the two bands is similar, but I agree that they are different beasts altogether. Rather than Radiohead, I think of AF more as the next Nirvana–and Radiohead was kind of a next Nirvana, too, so maybe that’s not much different.

  2. Myung Horrell Says:

    What a write!! Very informative also easy to understand. Looking for more such writeups!! Do you have a myspace?
    I recommended it on stumbleupon. The only thing that it’s missing is a bit of color. However thank you for this blog.

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