By Gemma Matthews (@screamethereal)
Our fave French-Canadian symposium Arcade Fire are releasing their fifth studio album in just over a month’s time. From what we’ve heard so far, this could be an interesting one. With singles Everything Now and Creature Comfort recently released in anticipation of the new record, there seems to be a bit of a new sound emerging – something cleaner, perhaps, with bigger swings between upbeat, celebratory pop and hazy, dirty grunge. Could this have something to do with a change in record label? Merge have released the band’s first four LPs, but Columbia have now got a foot in the door and will be releasing Everything Now on July 28th. It’s all speculative, and it’s all to play for, but for now we thought we’d look back at the beautiful, the bold and the downright bizarre moments of the band’s discography so far.
In at number four, Reflektor. The band’s fourth album was released in 2013, and honestly? It was nice. Pleasant with a good flow, but unmoving. Maybe this was a sign that a change in direction was needed, and there’s every chance we’ll see that brought around with the new label’s take on things. As it stands, though, Reflektor was brought out in good faith and under the reliable veil that the band had enough of a fanbase from the first three records to make up the numbers. This record seems to take its audience for granted and as such it loses out on its chance at a spark, which is a shame.
3. Neon Bible
Third place? Neon Bible. NB is a fantastic album and, to be honest, maybe third place is unfair. The record is the moody teenager of the collection so far, and is a personal favourite. A technically sound piece of work with attitude in passive aggressive bucketloads, Neon Bible brings the darkness. And, God, do I love it. That said, the album feels relatively small compared to what comes next for the band, and for that reason it takes third. (Small does not always equal a negative, you understand. Just in this case, it is a major contributor to the ranking. All’s fair in love and French-Canadian indie music, right?)
Second place goes to Funeral. This was the band’s first LP, and a first impression for a lot of people who have since become big fans, watching the band grow from album one until now. It has a sound which now seems very classically Arcade Fire, juxtaposed with joy and what seemed at first bizarre sounds from the ether which hadn’t yet made their way into mainstream chart music. A celebration of joy and flames, and a starting point for something bigger.
1. The Surburbs
And of course, The Suburbs claims first prize. An absolutely excellent album bringing out that classic Arcade Fire sound but on a massive scale. If ever there was an album I wanted to swim in, it’s this one. The album’s lyrical content is inspired by band members Win and William Butler’s upbringing in The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb of Houston and this, mixed with beautiful, dissonant clangy noise, allowed the band to shine in a whole new way. There’s a reason why the album appears at the top of lists like this: maybe one day we’ll go into more detail about why it deserve that position.
So there you have it. Well, almost – the absolute worst? Charging fifty five fucking quid for a show in a shitey wee venue. Corn Exchange, we’re looking at you. Wankers.