Friday, August 20, 2010

Arcade Fire's The Suburbs

The new Arcade Fire album is actually really deep. Win Butler is talking a lot about a lot of things, and it's obvious he himself is conflicted even as he passes judgment. It's quite interesting the way he attacks pretension and hipsters, his audience base, while at the same time beginning to agree with their opinions. The album is titled The Suburbs which is a lot of what it is about. Initially it seems that he is pro-suburbs and reminding all these hipsters that they grew up in the sprawl they are now trying to forget and argue against. In my own mind I feel like Suburban Developments are a fantastic idea usually done so very very very wrong in America. It seems like he comes to this point as well, but it might just be the poetry in his lyrics allowing me to see my beliefs in his words. However, it then becomes something much deeper where he begins to look at his life through the years he's been alive and can't decide whether it was childhood or the suburbs as the reason why he had a damn good childhood. It seems like he decides it's both:

"Cops showing their lights
On the reflectors of our bikes
Said "Do you kids know what time it is?"
Well, sir, it's the first time I felt like something is mine
Like I have something to give

The last defender of the sprawl
Said "Well, where do you kids live?"
Well, sir, if you only knew what the answer's worth
Been searching every corner of the earth... "

If memory is the thing he has for his own, then this is his most serious attack against the hipster mob. First, he realizes that though everything looks the same in the suburbs, it still feels like home. Second, he realizes that this feeling is something he owns. Third he realizes that what he was searching the world over was inside himself all the time. It follows that trying to fit in too hard (read: Hipsters) is really a bowing down to a man all its own: you've got what you need inside yourself, in short, be real, not trendy.

Win's whole argument is a lot more complex and deep than this quick example of two stanzas gives, but this point is a quiet affirmation and giving up. A silent step in the grown-up direction for a man who, throughout the album is almost obsessed with childhood. His use of the Suburbs to get into this discussion of the Youth of Today, what it means to be from someplace, and humanity is absolutely brilliant. I wish my Tobacco Poetry was as skillful as Win's Suburban Poetry. This album is masterfully lyrical, deep, and literate, all while remaining open and unpretentious in a way that is quite refreshing. After all, growing up in The Woodlands gives him first-hand experience of a better suburban situation than is typical.