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Monday, August 16, 2010

Arcade Fire Beyond Niche

I'm sorry I didn't see the Arcade Fire's shows at Madison Square Garden on August 4th and 5th. From what I've read, the shows were anywhere in the range from very good to great, and while I'm generally positive but far from super-enthusiastic about The Suburbs, live is apparently how you need to get this band.

I'm not going to review the album. Rob Harvilla from the Village Voice has written a review that neatly and smartly encapsulates many of my views about both the band and the album, which for me is another in a series of epochal "good but not nearly great" albums in the tradition of Ok Computer, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Is This It?, Up The Bracket, the entire Spoon catalog, and more - music whose praise has me listen and listen and listen, only to end up scratching my head at what all the fuss is about. I'd love to ascribe it to my contrary nature, but I yearn for consensus about the great far more than I yearn to make everyone else wrong.

And while it'd be nice if the herd of independent thinkers had a more consistent ability to discern the truly great from the good, the success of the Arcade Fire is heartening in that it shows that there is a demand, even amongst the too cool for schoolers, for music to be something more than one's private, nichefied pleasure. Just imagine if the Arcade Fire's songwriting chops matched their ambition. Now that would be something, because Springsteen comparisons or no Springsteen comparisons, Born In The U.S.A. this ain't, rhythmically, humor wise, in insight or any which way. But there's always the next album, and I guess I gotta see 'em live.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Ben. I've been wondering if I was the only one not getting the "masterpiece" as it's being crowned almost everywhere else. I loved the 1st 2 albums, but Butler's half baked lyrics leave me wondering what the hell he is really going on about. "Now I'm ready to start?" Start what? "I'm moving past the feelin'" Okay? "Makes me feel like something don't feel right" Really Win? I grew up in the Suburbs and I could probably give you a detail or two if I was going try to sum up my time there.

It's probably gonna be tough for a couple of Bruce fans to excuse such laziness. Then again Win says "Kids" about as much as Bruce used "Kiss" on The Rising. But Bruce is an old millionaire so I've learned to lower my expectations. C'mon Win you're a young millionaire throw us a little protein in with the stew. Great blog Ben!

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