Song of the Day #1,690: ‘The Suburbs’ – Arcade Fire

suburbsI’ve done two full-album series on the blog — for Ben Folds Five’s debut album and Frank Sinatra’s Watertown — and I’ve wanted to try it again for awhile.

The challenge is finding an album worthy of the attention that I haven’t already picked clean through other Song of the Day posts. Paul Simon’s Graceland, for example, is certainly worthy of the treatment but I’ve posted more than half of its tracks individually over the years.

And I take this no-repeat thing seriously. It’s my one and only rule.

So I had sort of given up on the idea of exploring another album in full. But then I stumbled upon Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs.

This is a 16-track concept album that received heaps of critical praise and was named a surprise Record of the Year winner at the 2011 Grammys. I’ve owned it for a couple of years but only listened to it a few times. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it — on the contrary, I very much do — but it just never captured my attention the way some things do.

In short, The Suburbs is a perfect candidate for an in-depth exploration. It will give me a chance to learn a record that was celebrated for resurrecting the idea of the album as a cohesive work of art. And I don’t have to worry about repeats — I’ve posted only one song from this album to date.

Today’s SOTD, the album’s opener and title track, is a real beauty. It starts off with a honkytonk piano that reminds me of Elliott Smith circa Figure 8 before segueing into heavier instrumentation. Lyrically, it sets the scene for this record about life in suburban America.

It doesn’t tell a story so much as evoke a feeling. This has been described as a concept album but I’m guessing that concept is thematic rather than plot-driven. I guess we’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.

In the suburbs I
I learned to drive
And you told me we’d never survive
Grab your mother’s keys we’re leavin’

You always seemed so sure
That one day we’d be fighting
In a suburban war
your part of town against mine
I saw you’ standin’ on the opposite shore
But by the time the first bombs fell
We were already bored
We were already, already bored

Sometimes I can’t believe it
I’m movin’ past the feeling
Sometimes I can’t believe it
I’m movin’ past the feeling again

Kids wanna be so hard
But in my dreams we’re still screamin’ and runnin’ through the yard
And all of the walls that they built in the seventies finally fall
And all of the houses they build in the seventies finally fall
Meant nothin’ at all
Meant nothin’ at all
It meant nothin

Sometimes I can’t believe it
I’m movin’ past the feeling
Sometimes I can’t believe it
I’m movin’ past the feeling and into the night

So can you understand?
Why I want a daughter while I’m still young
I wanna hold her hand
And show her some beauty
Before all this damage is done

But if it’s too much to ask, if it’s too much to ask
Then send me a son

Under the overpass
In the parking lot we’re still waiting
It’s already passed
So move your feet from hot pavement and into the grass
Cause it’s already passed
It’s already, already passed!

Sometimes I can’t believe it
I’m movin’ past the feeling
Sometimes I can’t believe it
I’m movin’ past the feeling again

I’m movin’ past the feeling
I’m movin’ past the feeling

In my dreams we’re still screamin’
We’re still screamin’
We’re still screamin’

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One thought on “Song of the Day #1,690: ‘The Suburbs’ – Arcade Fire

  1. Dana says:

    Er….okay….seems like an odd choice to feature this album in its entirety, but I’ll go with it. I know of this band only through your blog and an appearance on the Colbert Report. They haven’t really overwhelmed me and, while today’s song is decent enough, I’m still waiting to be as truly impressed as critics seem to be over this band.

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