- Montreal's Arcade Fire successfully avoided the sophomore slump with 2007's apocalyptic Neon Bible. Heavier and more uncertain than their nearly perfect, darkly optimistic 2004 debut, the album aimed for the nosebleed section and left a red mess. Having already fled the cold comforts of suburbia on Funeral and suffered beneath the weight of the world on Neon Bible, it seems fitting that a band once so consumed with spiritual and social middle-class fury should find peace "under the overpass in the parking lot." If nostalgia is just pain recalled, repaired, and resold, then The Suburbs is its sales manual. Inspired by brothers Win and William Butler's suburban Houston, Texas upbringing, the 16-track record plays out like a long lost summer weekend, with the jaunty but melancholy Kinks/Bowie-esque title cut serving as its bookends. Meticulously paced and conservatively grand, fans looking for the instant gratification of past anthems like "Wake Up" and "Intervention" will find themselves reluctantly defending The Suburbs upon first listen, but anyone who remembers excitedly jumping into a friend's car on a sleepy Friday night armed with heartache, hope, and no agenda knows that patience is key. Multiple spins reveal a work that's as triumphant and soul-slamming as it is sentimental and mature. At its most spirited, like on "Empty Room," "Rococo," "City with No Children," "Half Light II (No Celebration)," "We Used to Wait," and the glorious Rgine Chassagne-led "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)," the latter of which threatens to break into Blondie's "Heart of Glass" at any moment, Arcade Fire make the suburbs feel positively electric. Quieter moments reveal a changing of the guard, as Win trades in the Springsteen-isms of Neon Bible for Neil Young on "Wasted Hours," and the ornate rage of Funeral for the simplicity of a line like "Let's go for a drive and see the town tonight/There's nothing to do, but I don't mind when I'm with you," from album highlight "Suburban War." The Suburbs feels like Richard Linklater's Dazed & Confused for the Y generation. It's serious without being preachy, cynical without dissolving into apathy, and whimsical enough to keep both sentiments in line, and of all of their records, it may be the one that ages the best. ~ James Christopher Monger
Rolling Stone (p.78) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hey instinctively scale their most intimate confessions to arena-rock levels, rolling out big drums and glossy keyboards..."
Spin - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "Radiant with apocalyptic tension and grasping to sustain real bonds, THE SUBURBS extends hungrily outward, recalling the dystopic miasma of William Gibson's sci-fi novels and Sonic Youth's guitar odysseys."
Entertainment Weekly (p.72) - "The band certainly aims for transcendence on THE SUBURBS -- a work of impressively fervent majesty..."
Uncut (p.80) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "THE SUBURBS is a surprising record, swapping the spit and fire of FUNERAL for a sense of mature playfulness....There is pain and pleasure, loss and hope."
Uncut (p.37) - Ranked #4 in Uncut's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2010" -- "[The album] sounded like a band recapturing their wistfulness and, even, their humanity."
Alternative Press - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Drawing on everything from '70s radio rock to angular indie rock from the '90s, Arcade Fire have built one of the most interesting-sounding records you're likely to hear all year..."
CMJ - "Filled with big-money percussion blasts, waves of strings and This-Is-Important surges of energy, 'Rococo' and 'Month Of May' will, no doubt, sound amazing echoing off arena rafters."
Billboard (p.28) - "At 16 tracks, this dense, complicated set covers considerably more stylistic territory than either of the band's previous albums..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.90) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Crammed with addictive confections....THE SUBURBS also heralds unexpected vistas, not least of which is a sense of humour."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.58) - Ranked #2 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2010" -- "[T]hey raze the peaks and troughs of that bombastic chamber rock and add fuzz-punk and soaring synthpop to an expanding, yet more refined, pallette."
Paste (magazine) - "[I]t's Arcade Fire's most ambitious and concept-driven effort to date....A vein of emptiness and Beckett-esque waiting courses throughout..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.78) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "The spritely opening title track is terrific, as is the sad, anthemic beauty of 'Ready To Start'....There are some magical moments here..."