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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Arcade Fire
The Suburbs
Merge

Rating: 9.1/10 ?


August 5, 2010
What happens in Montreal doesn't stay in Montreal. Just when the indiesphere needed something novel to obsess on, midway through this end-of-decade-annum, Arcade Fire arrive to answer the call. Forget about tunnels, Canada's finest are moving into the widening sprawl of our connected consciousness. Referencing the "kids" as carefree as Springsteen shouts out engines, Win Butler has grown up and assumed the role of his gen's poetic spokesman - he who tackles the big queries: alienation, religion, death, community. Like Bruce and Bono before him, Butler leans toward bombast in his quest for transcendence. Funeral nailed it, a phenom rightly likened to Born to Run. Neon Bible was ambitious but missed the mark, a lesser Joshua Tree. The Suburbs strikes it again, but in an entirely different manner: Arcade Fire have set their sights downstream this time around. Perhaps taking a cue from another seminal band, Talking Heads, The Suburbs is a more restrained, tempered affair. Yet the beat of their bleeding heart still remains, the desire to send home a message, to propel songs forward with passion. It's the sound of a band that knows it's in the driver's seat, and is willing to fork off the road they've so successfully paved. The result is a workingman effort from a band that is now comfortable, relaxed and has let down its guard. Smaller in scope than Funeral and Neon Bible, yet not overshadowed by those monumental statements, the hour plus breezy ride is one of consequence. It is the perfect third installment, and what a triptych we're left hanging: awash in colorful contradictions, the juxtapositions fit unassumingly into the Arcade Fire's fiery vision.
--Ari Shapiro


It's not even an "everybody's going to say everything already" feeling: I don't have much to say. This is nice music, but tracks like "City With No Children", "Modern Man", and "Wasted Hours" are just background music, and even the standouts (which definitely exist) aren't making me think about much of anything. If that's the point of The Suburbs, then I'm going to stop pretending I liked Neon Bible and jump off the bandwagon now.

Intricate guitar work saves a few tracks and makes "Suburban War" a beautiful standout, making me want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Even if it's not making me think, it's inviting enough that maybe it will one day. Still think Broken Social Scene made a far superior "quintessential indie rock album" this year, and that Win Butler's voice is weakest when it's alone.
--JJ Lang


Pontificating on contemporary rock music culture, Win Butler aptly describes the situation in "Suburban War," declaring "Now the music divides us intro tribes/You choose your side I'll choose my side". This always seems to happen when there is a blockbuster release such as Arcade Fire, who many critics will rate high because they seem to believe in the idea of a band more than they believe in the music itself (see: LCD Soundsystem, The National), while others take a hard line against the album as they try to "stay true to their roots," find a voice and make a name for themselves. Yet both of these strategies unfortunately exclude the most important aspect of a release: the music. Wading through the sixteen tracks, The Suburbs has its own distinct sound and also seems like an extension of Neon Bible in terms of cultural critique. Triumphs such as "Empty Room," "Half Light II (No Celebration)," "Suburban War", "We Used to Wait" and "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" are brilliantly composed, while others, such as "Ready to Start", "Modern Man", "City With No Children", and "Month of May" are less innovative but just as enjoyable. The only misses are the bookending title tracks, and that we don't get to hear enough of Régine Chassagne's voice.
--Brian Christopher Jones


A love letter to the 'burbs that is surely the band's finest yet. Any criticisms that could feasibly be made here--perhaps that the tone comes across at overwrought or that the album runs a bit long--are largely immaterial in the presence of such masterful songcraft, poignancy and instrumental precision.The Suburbs finds Arcade Fire building on their rich repertoire: adding some pop strokes here, some synth dabs there, particularly on standout "Sprawl II", but overall keeping it sentimental, melancholy, and beautiful, like they do best.

--Eric Collin Wedgewood


I'm in the minority around here, in that Neon Bible was my #1 of 2007 and Funeral was my #0 of 2004. But here's what stood out in one loooooong hour of The Suburbs:

- Win Butler's awful falsetto is finally ruining things. On the opener/title tune (don't trust bands whose first album with a title tune is also their first with over fourteen tracks) he sets up some decent piano chords and takes them nowhere in 5:15 but tuneless town.

- "Month of May" proves that if Arcade Fire tried to rock they would sound like Clinic.

- This is their least dark album, which is bad because angst gave their whine a sharp sense of purpose. It also lowers their instrumental density: they're trying to make something of the parts when all anyone ever loved of this band was the whole. Like the White Album, which I'm not the first to mention, these songs function as miniature solo albums for band members you can't name. As such you're left waiting for the strings to swoop in and shit like that. "City with No Children" is a bassline that needs handclaps. "Ready to Start" is a coda that needs a lead-in. "Half Light II" is a lead-in that needs a coda. ("Modern man" is a 5/4 tripover that needs Travis Morrison)

- "Suburban War" is really pretty. About this point I realized there isn't a song here that couldn't be improved by losing sixty seconds. Sometimes more.

- Then the final quadrant changes everything. "We Used to Wait" is easily the best thing here and would've been a perfect addition to Neon Bible; you can sing "Ocean of Noise" over it and Lose Butler is drowned out by adorable girl-group response. It's a retread but it's a retread to album-of-the-year stuff. As a single, it'll make my year-end. But the two-part "Sprawl" comes almost as close. I can't wait to hear what people think of the Regine-sung Joanna Newsom synth-disco of part two. Easily the catchiest thing on The Suburbs and the hammiest thing they've ever done. Love it. If this is a typically transitional/overly long/difficult/whatever followup to an Album of the Decade, at least they have an inkling of how to get out of the rut. Maybe I will love this by year's end--I've never loved an album by them immediately. But when the best songs on a transitional/overly long/difficult/whatever followup to an Album of the Decade are called "We Used to Wait" and "The Sprawl" I'm more tempted to run.
--Dan Weiss


I love the way "City with No Children" turns a Stones-ready riff into a gospel hymn. I love the way that "The Sprawl II" and "The Empty Room" dump Blondie and ABBA into the Technicolor playgrounds more commonly inhabited by New Order and Depeche Mode. I love the way that key phrases from the first song pop up throughout the album. I love listening to Win Butler develop into a frontman who can sell the most basic tunes. I love that this band in six years has pushed so hard to make albums that must be considered whole. But mostly I love that I think they've topped themselves, which is no small feat for a band that made my decade top three.
--Cory Tendering

Reviewed by The LAS Staff
A number of the Lost At Sea staff have worked and continue to work for various publications, both independent and commercial. Often very stifling in their narrow focus, conventional media outlets left our writers hungry for something bigger, more diverse, more communal. More active, because this is the twenty-first century and it makes sense. During it\'s short life LAS has accomplished many of its goals (but not all) and has in turn set new ones. Everything that we accomplish is through teamwork and cooperation, both with our regular staff writers and with our contributing writers. LAS is nothing short of a collective. Another contrasting point to some of the magazines out there is that we\'ve checked our egos and scene ethics at the door. We welcome anyone and everyone to contribute and cover a wide range of topics. LAS does not follow your guide lines.

See other reviews by The LAS Staff

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