Grow Old with Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire’s third full-length album is out. Pitchfork gives it an 8.6, calling The Suburbs, “a satisfying return to form.” Kind words considering the notoriously catty music blog tends to turn on former favorites at any sign of weakness. Perhaps it’s ironic, then, that The Suburbs‘ main subject is the rock-worn tradition of aging ungracefully. A.O. Scott might have been onto something when he diagnosed the onset of the Gen X midlife crisis, though to be fair, these early-30’s anthemic Canadian rockers were still in diapers (or maybe braces) when Gen X began its descent into middle age. Not that Arcade Fire has ever sounded particularly young—their first album, 2004’s Funeral, mostly centered around premature nostalgia for adolescence—but The Suburbs finds the band on new footing, waxing orthopedic.

To put it succinctly: the new melodrama is fo yo baby mama. Or something. The band, fronted by husband and wife duo Win Butler and Regine Chassagner, have (mostly) ditched their post-9/11, pre-Obama political anxieties in favor of more familial concerns: rearing, raising, and yes, longing for eternal youth while driving around in cars. Bruce Springsteen eat your heart out. The accompanying arrangements, too, have been taken down a notch, if only from an 11 to about a 10.4. This new-found grasp at restraint suits the band. The toned-down arrangements let Butler’s songs speak for themselves, and showcase his greatest weapon—his evocative, urgent voice. But don’t worry, there’s still swelling strings, ominous organ, and plenty of yelling. Check out one fan’s unofficial video for the title track.

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