Review: 10 Years of Arcade Fire's Grammy Winning Album, “The Suburbs,” with Jojo Richard Mitten

Updated: Mar 24


As Canadian-based band Arcade Fire's “The Suburbs” turns 10-years-old this year, I have now taken the time to listen to what I have previously heard been referred to as a “Canadian Treasure.” Now, after one full listen, I have just one question: Can someone please explain to me, Arcade Fire's “The Suburbs Concept Record?” Of course, it is my understanding that the band Arcade Fire's third Studio album, “The Suburbs Concept Record,” won the awards for Album of the Year at both the Grammy Awards and the Juno Awards, as well as Juno's Award for Alternative Album of the Year, Polaris' Music Prize, NME's Award for Best Album, and of course, my favourite of the awards, the Brit Award for international Album.


Now, I ask, can someone please explain to me, why Arcade Fire's third studio album, “The Suburbs Concept Record,” won all of these awards? I will admit to you now that after my first and only full listen of the band Arcade Fire’s third studio album, it is my understanding, (and please correct me if I am wrong), that a great many of the tracks on “The Suburbs Concept Record” repeat the title of the track over and over again in the chorus segment of each individual track. Now, if I am being honest, which I am now being, I am having trouble understanding just exactly how the ‘award winning’ band Arcade Fire has been getting away with this for so long. I will tell you now that this is why I am here for you:


To lift the proverbial veil if you will, and share with you, the reader, the listless and lazy songwriting of Arcade Fire's “The Suburbs Concept Record.”

Let us start with track number two of sixteen, (it is my hope that it is obvious to you that I am leaving out the two extra tracks from the deluxe edition, Culture War, and Speaking in Tongues feat. David Byrne), Ready to Start. If you are anything like the way that I am, and remember the lyrics of this song well, and more importantly, the chorus segment of the track, you will know that it goes a little something like this:


"Now, I am ready to start, Now, I am ready to start."


Of course, it is my understanding that this is only track number two of sixteen total tracks, so I have not yet judged the Arcade Fire band too harshly. However, the fact that the band Arcade Fire was only ‘ready to start’ as of the second track, (out of a sixteen track album), speaks volumes to the lackluster nature of the first track of sixteen, The Suburbs, which just so happens to be title of the concept record as well.


I will say to you now, as we move on to track number three of sixteen, Modern Man, that it was at this point in my listening experience that my feelings had begun to change, and it was with this track that I first started to notice a devious pattern from the beloved Canadian-based band Arcade Fire. Of course, we are all aware that track number three of “The Suburbs Concept Record” is called Modern Man, and I am well aware of the question that this title raises in all of our thoughts: "What exactly is this song about?" Well, I say to you, Arcade Fire, that we do not have the answer to this simple question, because we, the listeners, are too distracted by the final lyrics of the fade out segment of the track which go:


"Like a modern man, I am a modern man, I am a modern man, I am a modern man, I am a modern man."


Now that we have established a Machiavellian pattern found on the tracks of Arcade Fire’s allegedly well-received “concept record The Suburbs,” I have started to look for deviations within the Arcade Fire songs moving forward. Well, readers, I am here to tell you that I have found no luck, and I would now like to expose to you the lyrics of the fourth song from “The Suburbs Concept Record,” Rococo, which I believe to the band Arcade Fire’s worst offence yet. Unlike our inability to understand the meaning of a track like Modern Man, we are all well aware that the song Rococo finds its meaning in the easily recognizable artistic movement, Rococo, additionally known to some as "roccoco" or "Late Boroque," which, if I remember correctly, ran between the 1730s and the 1760s in artistic countries such as France, Italy, and Central Europe. Again, as I know we are all well aware of, the most identifiable aspect of the Rococo movement of art was found in its overuse of curves and counter-curves. With this now on all of our minds, I ask, can someone please explain to me why Arcade Fire's fourth track, Rococo, from their supposed highly acclaimed third Studio album, “The Suburbs Concept Record,” has nothing to do with the highly popular artistic movement it so obviously takes its name from?

Now, let us look at the three main chorus segments of the song Rococo for example, as each of the three choruses repeat the words of the last, with only slight variation. The first chorus segment goes as follows:


"They sing, Rococo, Rococo."


Now, this may not appear as bad as I had made it out to be thus far, and I am, of course, well aware that many of you are thinking to say to me, "The Grammy ‘Award Winning’ Canadian-based band Arcade Fire only repeats the title two times." Of course, this would clearly appear to be much better than the third track of sixteen, Modern Man, which we now know repeats the title of the song five times in a row. However, I am here to share with you that this is not the case, as we will see within the next two chorus segments of Rococo, which go as follows:


"They'll sing, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo," which is then followed by the track's fade out segment, "Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo, Rococo."


You must notice that this is fifteen repetitions of the title of the song within the song as part of all three chorus segments. Of course, it is important for me to tell you now that it was at this point in my listening experience that I realized that I must need someone to please explain to me the appeal of Arcade Fire's “The Suburbs Concept Record.”


Let us now examine the lyrics of the fifth of sixteen tracks, Empty Room. When I first witnessed the title of this song, I thought to myself what I know many of you thought to yourselves as well, "What an interesting title for a song this is...I wonder what the track could possibly be about?" Well, I am here to tell you that the ‘award winning’ band, Arcade Fire, has provided us with an insufficient answer to the question, with the opening lyrics stating:


"I said your name in an empty room, I said your name in an empty room, that is something that I would never do."

Well Arcade Fire, you may claim all you like that you would never say the name of someone else in an empty room, but it is more than obvious from the lyrics which precede your final sentiment that you did in fact say the name of someone else in an empty room. I say now to you, Arcade Fire, that you do not even attempt to hide this, as the lyrics which come right after the aforementioned lyrics go as follows:


"I said your name in an empty room, I said your name in an empty room, that is something that I would never do."


Not only does Canadian-based ‘award winning’ band Arcade Fire repeat the very same lyrics directly after one another, but these same lyrics contradict their own sentiment in the very same process. I say to you, the reader, that it is my hope that you are following my train of thoughts as I continue to go through many of the sixteen tracks on Arcade Fire's “The Suburbs Concept Record.”


Now, let us move ahead to track number ten of sixteen, Month of May. Of course, the concept of this particular song is easy enough for us, the listener, to understand, as we are all familiar with the month of May, the fifth of the twelve months that we experience on a yearly basis. Now, with this on all of our minds, I want to point out to you that the band Arcade Fire provides us, the listener, with a subtle nod to the month of May's numerical placement on the Gregorian calendar during the opening lyrics of the song, as they sing the numbers:


"1, 2, 3, 4."


I will admit to you now that I did find this to be a clever reference for the band Arcade Fire, as they quickly count the number of months that have previously gone by, letting us, the listener, know that we have now entered the fifth month with them, the month of May. However, I will also share with you that this may be the only part of the song worth listening to, as the lyrics that follow are:


"I am going to make a record in the month of May, in the month of May, in the month of May, I am going to make a record in the month of May."

Can someone please explain to me why the band Arcade Fire would make the claim to have planned to make a record in the month of May when a quick Wikipedia search indicated to me that “The Suburbs Concept Record” was recorded over the span of two years? In fact, an additional Wikipedia search indicated to me, that the band Arcade Fire did not even release the song Month of May as a single in the month of May. ‘Multi-award winning’ Canadian-based band Arcade Fire actually released the song Month of May one day after the Month of May’s cut off date, June 1st, 2010. Can someone please explain to me both why and how Grammy ‘award winning’ Canadian-based band Arcade Fire did not receive any amount of criticism for missing the month of May’s deadline by one day in the release of their first ever single from “The Suburbs Concept Record?”


With this in our thoughts, I would now like to introduce to you the eleventh track of sixteen, Wasted Hours. I want to share with you the lyrics of the chorus segment of this song, which I understand to be reflective of my listening experience for this Arcade Fire concept record as a whole:


"Wasted hours before we knew, where to go and what to do, wasted hours that you make new..."


I will admit to you now that after listening to this track, I would like to be completely honest in telling you, the reader, that I wish I had the ability to know that I, the writer of this review, would be wasting one of my own hours simply by listening to the ‘Award Winning’ band Arcade Fire's “The Suburbs Concept Record.” Now, I ask, Can someone please explain to me how to take the band Arcade Fire up on their own advice for me to make my wasted hour new again?


Of course, as we move on to the second half of the concept record with Arcade Fire's thirteenth track of sixteen, We Used to Wait, I ask you, the reader, to please consider the patterns that we have seen thus far in the music of the band Arcade Fire's “The Suburbs Concept Record.” To reestablish what I have found within this concept record, I will reiterate to you, that it has become clear to me, through my listening experience, that the band Arcade Fire has been using the titles of their songs as the lyrics for the choruses of the very songs in which they are named after. Now, I say to you, the reader, that this is no different with their track, We Used to Wait. I will now introduce to you the song's fade out segment which goes as follows:


“We used to wait, oooooh, we used to wait, oooooooooh, we used to wait, we used to wait for it, oooooooooh, we used to wait for it."


Now, if this was not enough repetition of the track’s title for you, the band Arcade Fire goes on to tell you, the listener, quite literally, exactly what they are doing in the moments before they repeat the title of the track again, as the band Arcade Fire states to you, the listener:


"Now we are screaming, Sing the chorus again," before going directly into, "We used to wait for it, we used to wait for it."


I want to share with you, that if you are someone patient enough to listen to the track in it's entirety, the lyrics continue to tell us, the listener, that the band Arcade Fire is screaming and singing the chorus again, stating:


"Now we are screaming, sing the chorus again," before going into the title of the song for a second time, explaining to the listener that they once again "used to wait for it."


Of course, it comes to me as no surprise that after the band Arcade Fire felt the need to share with us that they are screaming and singing the chorus again, (something which we are all aware should be obvious to the listener if they are listening), the Canadian-based band Arcade Fire goes on to explain to us for a third time, with slight variation, that we, the listener, should:


"Hear [Arcade Fire's] voice screaming, sing the chorus again."


Now, can someone please explain to me where the band Arcade Fire received the idea that we, the listener, cannot hear their voice screaming and singing the chorus again? We have already heard it two times prior to this one. However, at the most end point of this track, the band Arcade Fire take the lyrics into new territory, telling us, the listener, to:


"wait for it, wait for it, wait for it..."


Well, Arcade Fire, I would like to share with you now that I do not know what you, the ‘award winning’ Canadian-based band who wrote this song, was waiting for. All that I can tell you that I know, is that I used to wait for this track to end when I first started listening.


Now, as we move on to the final tracks of the sixteen track Concept Record “The Suburbs,” I would like to explain to you the opening lyrics of the fifteenth track, The Sprawl II (Beyond the Mountains), which sees Arcade Fire state that:


"They heard me singing and they told me to stop."


Well, Arcade Fire, I am wondering why on earth ‘they’ would tell you to stop singing once they heard you sing? It is not as if you have not had one song which does not steal its title to repeat over and over again as an attempt at the making of a catchy chorus for the listener. I don’t know who “they” are, Arcade Fire, but whoever “they” are, I say to you, what Randy Newman has said to all of us through his popular track from the first of four Toy Story films, You’ve got a Friend in Me, that you, whoever you may be, have a friend in someone such as myself.


Of course, moving on, I would like to now finish this review, with you, by sharing my thoughts on the sixteenth track of the sixteen track Arcade Fire Concept Record “The Suburbs,” The Suburbs (continued). As the non-deluxe edition of Arcade Fire's “The Suburbs Concept Record” comes to its close, Arcade Fire shares with us, the listener:

"If [the band Arcade Fire] could have it back, all the time that [the band Arcade Fire] wasted, [the band Arcade Fire would] only waste it again,"


The band Arcade Fires goes on to further explain that:


"If [Arcade Fire] could have it back, you know [the band Arcade Fire] would love to waste it again, waste it again and again and again..."


Now, I would like to share with you, that it is interesting to me, that the band Arcade Fire would provide to us, the listener, the admission of guilt, that they have wasted all of our time, and as well, that they would love to do it again and again, as I am sure I will discover as I write my next album review on the Canadian-based band Arcade Fire's fourth studio album, “The Reflektive Concept Record”


Of course, as I finish writing this article, I will explain to you now, that it has been quite amazing to me, to have learned that this, the band Arcade Fire's style of musicianship, is of that which is required to win both Album of the Years at the Grammy Awards and the Juno Awards, as well as Juno's Award for Alternative Album of the Year, Polaris' Music Prize, NME's Award for Best Album, and, I cannot forget to mention, my favourite of the awards, the Brit Award for international Album. Perhaps I should release the first single from my real band, Crash Bandicoot, (which we are all aware shares its name with the moniker of the popular video game character from the well-known 1996 video game of the same denominate), titled, I Accidentally Sent a Text to My Friend’s Girlfriend on Purpose, with the chorus segment going as follows:


"I accidentally sent a text to my best friend’s girlfriend on purpose, I accidentally sent a text to my best friend’s girlfriend on purpose, I accidentally sent a text to my best friend’s girlfriend on purpose, on purpose, on purpose, I accidentally sent a text to my best friend’s girlfriend on purpose."


As I finish the article here, it is my hope that you can identify both the sarcasm, as well as the problematic nature at hand, with the chorus segment of my band Crash Bandicoot's hypothetical song, I accidentally sent a text message to my best friend’s girlfriend on purpose, which I have obviously fabricated to illustrate my point, (though my band, Crash Bandicoot, is real, which I understand might appear confusing to you, the reader), because that is exactly what the ‘award winning’ Canadian-based band Arcade Fire has done to all of us with their Grammy 'award winning' third Studio album, “The Suburbs Concept Record.”


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