When Arcade Fire snuck this track into independent record stores as a 12” single earlier this year, backed by b-side Month Of May (which we’ll come to in 10 tracks time), we were a little under-whelmed.
The piano chords/strummed acoustic/palm-muted electric combination gives the track a nice alt-country rhythm, reminiscent of US indie-stalwarts Spoon. Yet we couldn’t shake the feeling that for a lead single by Arcade Fire - a band known for their grandiose, emotional arrangements - this all felt a little, well, understated.
But first impressions can be misleading. For one thing the track is undoubtedly a grower; the kind of song that gradually gets under your skin as you notice there’s much more too it than first meets the eye.
For another, The Suburbs works far better in the context of the album than it does left to its own devices on a 12”.
Lyrically, Win Butler sets up some of the fantastic suburban imagery that is a running theme across the record (“All of the houses they built in the ‘70s finally fall”). Musically, it’s a great intro and sounds 10 times better when allowed to flow into the track that follows it…