Culture Club: Arcade Fire's 'The Suburbs'

Readers review this week's album
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The Independent Culture

"Not as good as Neon Bible... but best album of the year so far."

John O'Sullivan

"A great return."

Charlie North

"Bloody awful."

Ron Broxted

"The Suburbs is further proof that Arcade Fire make event albums: bold works that are both attention-grabbing and immersive. Like its predecessors, this album is driven by big, sweeping anthems of disillusionment, but there's a refreshing range of sounds and textures here. Lyrically, I think they're stronger with focused, personal imagery than general statements about "our age" and "the kids", and the biblical allusions are still a bit much. But when the music takes off it's surely impossible not to be swept up by the hugeness and frequent beauty of the songs."

Alex Spinney

"A powerful album. From start to finish an intense listening experience. A more grown-up album from a band who have grown cynical about life. Stand-out tracks for me are "Modern Man", "City with No Children", "We Used to Wait", "Sprawl II" and "Suburban War" (vinyl only). I would place this album second in their discography. It doesn't have the pace of their first album but far more bite than Neon Bible had."

Thomas French

"Dull, plodding, completely lacking in the zeitgeist urgency that they tried to make their own."

Andy Powell

"Loved it, definitely not as upbeat as Funeral and Neon Bible – but there is beautiful quietness to it."

Jacqueline Henrisson

"The Suburbs is a slow-burner but also their most immersive album, its range of reflective moods richer than the ecstatic Funeral and the apocalyptic Neon Bible. And at a 16-song sprawl with no filler, it's as satisfying and searching as a great novel"

Kevin Knight

"Find it depressing."

Chloe Court

"While I do like The Suburbs, it's not as good as previous efforts. Maybe it's just because I haven't listened to it enough yet but there doesn't seem to be a brilliant, euphoric track on it like "Wake Up" on Funeral or "Keep the Car Running" from Neon Bible. Still, I can't wait to see them at Reading. I just hope they play some songs from their old albums too."

Lucie Edmonds

"Arcade Fire are definitely one of the most overrated bands of the decade. Their first two albums were just insufferably pompous, but at least they've realised this with the third and dropped the hubris. It's still rubbish, mind, despite the change of tone – the songs are all still deathly boring, and they still think they're the most special and important and world-changing band since The Sliced Breads, they just aren't caterwauling about it any more."

Tom Monk

"The Surburbs is brilliant musically, but lyrically puerile. 'Businessmen drink my blood/Just like the kids in art school said they would' is the sort of couplet that would be ridiculed if a nu-metal or emo band came out with it. Pining for the lost innocence of childhood was sort of awkwardly charming and endearing on Funeral, but six years later, it's as tiresome for the now 30-year-old Win Butler to continue down that road as it was for a similarly aged Fred Durst to claim he was "talking about my generation" 10 years ago. I'm eternally drawn to the classic pop hooks, but the lyrics make me cringe every time I hear them."

Mike Day

Next week in Culture Club: Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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