The Suburbs

MU

The Suburbs

Arcade Fire

Universal

Rs 295

Rating: ****

There is anger in Arcade Fire's new album; and there's also sorrow. It's the two things that the Montreal-based band does best. In their last effort, 2007's Neon Bible, they railed against the world's indifference towards the environment. In The Suburbs, the rage is toned down considerably to be replaced by sorrow at a childhood lost. This is founder Win Butler's part-paean, part-elegy to the childhood he shared with his brother William; nostalgia for a secure, care-free childhood mingles easily with a disdain for the stultifying atmosphere of the suburban life. There is enough room and playtime for children, but at the same time, there is room only for conformity.

The Suburbs won the Grammy for the Album of the Year, and for good reason. The songs are a good mix of pace and ideas, but all addressing the same theme. The acclaimed track, Ready to start, was also nominated for a Grammy this year. The suburbs talks about how complete apathy was the reaction that suburban residents felt for any event, in lines such as "By the time the first bombs fell/we were already bored". Another win for this album is the use of Regine Chassagne's honeyed vocals on two fabulous songs — Empty room, a song about endless waiting, and The sprawl II, with its trippy beats, belying the hopelessness that the singer feels at having her creative voice stifled by the mediocrity of suburban life.

The only negative here is that Win Butler continues to display his dislike for modern life. In fact, these is strongest in the two mediocre songs on the album— Modern man and We used to wait, which mourns the death of patience in contemporary lives.

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