The Late Movies: The Suburbs

Ransom Riggs

Yeah, yeah, yeah ... I'm always talking about how great Arcade Fire is and how much I love their latest album, The Suburbs. Well, for all of you who haven't heard it (or haven't heard it enough!) I just happened upon a veritable treasure-trove of super-expertly-well-shot concert footage of the band performing a lot of the songs from the album -- directed, for the most part, by Terry Gilliam. Yep -- that's Terry Gilliam from Monty Python and the director of Brazil, the latter of which I think has some subtle but not inconsiderable thematic ties to The Suburbs, which IMHO is a rockin' long-form lament-of-sorts about all that's been lost to and steamrolled by technology and globalization and the mass-production of pop culture -- though in an interview frontman Win Butler said that the album "is neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs - it's a letter from the suburbs."

Or, to quote a review from Spin that I rather like:

Radiant with apocalyptic tension and grasping to sustain real bonds, [it] extends hungrily outward, recalling the dystopic miasma of William Gibson's sci-fi novels and Sonic Youth's guitar odysseys. Desperate to elude its own corrosive dread, it keeps moving, asking, looking, and making the promise that hope isn't just another spiritual cul-de-sac.

OK, enough already! Here are most of the songs, in order. Enjoy! (Also note: I think this album is the best kind of slow burn. The first time I listened to it I was kinda meh and the fifth or sixth time it was like WOAH I GET IT NOW.) The title track:

The album's hit single, "Ready to Start."

There's no good video or concert recording for this one -- but give it a listen sans video.

Currently my favorite track from the album:

Another amazing song -- sans video.

I love the Byrds-esque guitar jangle in this one.

It's hard to believe that kids today (these kids today!) will never have the experience of writing letters to their friends, or far-away loved ones, and waiting for reply. I mean, they could, but they would never have to. It's a sentiment that's captured nicely in this song. By the way, there's an amazing interactive stylistically groundbreaking video for this song that I can't embed here for reasons that will become obvious but when you click here.

This is a strange and wonderful little song that reminds me a lot of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.

... and it has a sequel! Songs can have sequels?

And then a nice atmospheric little coda ...