Monday, August 23, 2010

What's the Matter With Arcade Fire

Well, technically, nothing.

Arcade Fire are a very competent indie rock band known for having an energetic live show. I get that. And clearly there are many folks who think very highly of them, but I'm not one of them.

I don't hate Arcade Fire. Really, I don't. I admit that I've probably said that a few time to be contrarian, but honestly I just don't think they're that interesting. My sister had heard their first album Funeral before I had, and said that they were "just an indie rock band." I listened to it, since I was curious about these highly touted Canadians, and came away with the same impression. There were some good songs, there were some dull songs, and that was about it.

But their star keeps rising and each new album from them is now AN EVENT. And so I paid the cut rate price Amazon was charging last week for their new album The Suburbs. I was not surprised to discover that they're still just an indie rock band. One that's clearly trying for something bigger, certainly, but they're not particularly adept at it. Once again, there are some nice cuts and some dull cuts, but my desire to listen to this album again is pretty low.

The thing is, there are plenty of recent bands that have succeeded in matching their hype, or at least delivered successful albums. For example, Vampire Weekend have crafted two albums of really, really catchy, clever songs. The band members may be dicks, (or may not) and I have relatively little desire to see them live, but the albums are great. And there are plenty of other bands worth a mention -- Beach House, as laid back as they are, keep getting better with each album, Real Estate are excellent, Tame Impalla's album is one of the best things I've heard this year, Beach Fossils are charming, Pains of Being Pure at Heart are great, and Toro Y Moi has released a perfect summer album.

If I want to see a bunch Canadians make a good racket onstage, there's always Broken Social Scene.


Kim said...

Amen! Thank you! I was starting to think I was crazy for being the only one who didn't "get it". I do have to add though, that Vampire Weekend puts on one of the best shows I've ever seen. Sounds like you're missing out there.

Brandi said...

I saw Arcade Fire a few weeks ago in MD. It was fantastic. Easily one of the best shows I've ever been to. Can't agree with you here :(

ali d said...

I'm in the camp of not being able to recognize an Arcade Fire song if I hear it, so I guess that's kind of a point for Max's post. Then again, you could play Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, and Vampire Weekend back to back and I would probably think they were all the same band, so maybe I don't count as a very good opinion.

I just know that whenever I hear a song that I really like on the radio, it usually ends up being Muse, so there's that.

B.Graham said...

I literally just checked my ipod to see if I had Arcade Fire on it, because they seem like the kind of band that someone I know would have put on my itunes, saying something to the tune of "OMG YOU DON'T HAVE ARCADE FIRE WHAAT!"

But alas, for my band list skips straight from Aqua to Arctic Monkeys. Guess I'm doomed to never hear their sound.