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When Arcade Fire first gave the world a sneak of The Suburbs back in May it seemed as if they were trying to do it without anyone noticing. Releasing a 12” single only in select independent record stores, giving very little away in terms of interviews or press, it felt like the band were trying to avoid the inevitable hype.
Of course, when you’re a band like Arcade Fire, whose debut album Funeral was a critical and commercial smash way beyond anything that was expected of it, everything that follows is going to emerge in a tidal wave of hype. And trying to live up to that is always going to be a difficult task.
So what do you need to know about The Suburbs? First up, it’s a bit of a concept record. No surprise there; pretty much everything the band have done in the past has had some kind of theme running through it (death in particular has always been a topic of choice for them).
This third album takes in a lot of themes - the alienation of modern living, the bleakness of suburban life, a critique of the hipster lifestyle - it’s all in there somewhere.
It’s also a bit of an epic. At 65 minutes and 16 tracks The Suburbs is no mini-album.
So how does it sound and how does it measure up? Can Arcade Fire live up to their own grand ambitions?