Monday, August 16, 2010

Living in the Sprawl

Man, talk about the dog days of summer. My absence from Too Poppy has less to do with being out of town for nearly a week and much more to do with generally being uninspired to write about anything - until now anyway.

The iPod is unexpectedly being dominated by Arcade Fire's The Suburbs this month. I say it's unexpected because this is my third attempt at trying them out and the first time it's stuck. Previously I've just found them to be over-hyped and too pretentious. It's not that they're no longer over-hyped (they do have the #1 album after all) or pretentious, but the power of the music and subject matter breaks through on The Suburbs.

It is an investment at first. Although there are catchy tunes scattered throughout the diatribes on the suburban life, we're not talking three-minute perfect pop gems. Listen closely and repeatedly though and it'll catch. Oh, it'll catch. Modern Man is a great example. Try to shake it after the second or third listen.

The Suburbs times out at 60 minutes plus. In the age of the digital single this is a heavy ask for the casual listener. But as much as The Suburbs is a soundtrack for the suburban coming-of-age story, it is also an entirely convincing argument for the on-going relevance of the album as an art form. The Suburbs is best listened to in its entirety. The superb Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) is a stunner in its own right (finding its groove somewhere between Blondie and The Sugarcubes while even teetering unashamedly into Abbaland), but as the musical and thematic climax of the album, it transcends to glory. There have been few goosebump moments like this in recent years so when we have them we should exploit them. Over and over again.

You've likely read up on Arcade Fire and maybe you're even a hardcore fan. This is the first time though they've found a place in the Too Poppy universe. Let's enjoy.

iTunes MP3

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