It’s time for a New Junk showdown!!!! In the Sophomore-Slump-Busting Corner we have Ra Ra Riot’s The Orchard. In the Released-an-Incredible-Album-Then-Just-a-Really-Good-One Corner we have Arcade Fire with The Suburbs. DING DING!
The Rhumb Line is amongst the most played full albums in my music library. It is the ever elusive complete album, with not a bad song to be heard anywhere. I tried not to expect too much from the follow-up, as I have learned I am easily disappointed. Especially with a relatively new band in Ra Ra Riot, as I have no idea if they can be consistently awesome or not. Even with all my efforts, I couldn’t help but be massively excited to have my first listen. It was definitely the most excited I’ve been to listen to an album for the first time in a long time. Incredibly, I was not disappointed. At all.
The Orchard is plain wonderful. It keeps all the energy and verve of The Rhumb Line while still progressing and not being boring. The band certainly knows how to arrange songs on their albums too, as this one is built superbly. The title track is the perfect opener, while “Keep It Quiet” rounds out the only 39 minute aural adventure. In between lies a contrast of fast and slow, of dark and playful, and of new and old. “Boy” sounds like a track straight from their first album, which is a huge compliment. Perhaps one reason why I think so highly of this album is that my future wife, Alexandra, gets to sing a whole song! By herself!
I’m still trying to find a bad song, but I haven’t yet. I think I’m just a sucker for strings. Got that Alexandra? Good.
Have a listen to “You And I Know”:
This is the part of the post where I would link you to the album that I host somewhere, but since this album isn’t out yet doing so would probably get this post deleted like last time. I could rant about why me linking to a download is a good thing, but instead I will link you to google, which will then link you to roughly 130,000 places you can download it other than here.
Google Facilitates Music Piracy (and it’s not my fault so don’t delete my post)
I don’t know if that’s really a mullet, but that’s what I’m calling it because it deserves a strange name. When I heard that Arcade Fire’s new album was called The Suburbs, I was scared. Scared because the suburbs are the city’s less exciting cousin. Would that mean this album would be a boring version of Funeral. In a way, I really expected it to be. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I just couldn’t see them making another solid album. I was wrong. Hipster Mullet 1, Eric 0. Whatever strange brain that lives below those beautiful flowing locks of Win’s is here to stay.
The Suburbs is not at all a departure from the band’s previous efforts, rather a reinvention of them. Capturing the unwavering energy of the band and dark songwriting edge of Win, the album is one full hour of solid listening, which few bands can say they create. Not a whole lot sticks out to me, which isn’t a bad thing. “Empty Room” sounds like Owen Pallett spent some time in the studio with Broken Social Scene (in a good way). “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains” touts a synth line straight from the 80’s. These things, mixed with the well known Arcade Fire strings, piano, guitar, megaphone, and bible tearing make for one great record. Listen to “Ready to Start”:
I haven’t decided where The Suburbs sits in my mind in relation to Funeral and Neon Bible. It’s definitely up there somewhere though. Funeral is an amazing album all the way through, Neon Bible has some incredible songs, but could The Suburbs tie it all together? Probably not, though time will tell. Neon Bible took a long time to achieve its “Quite Awesome” rating in my mind. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it past Neon Bible fairly soon.
GFMP (AINMF) (133,000 results)
Oh right, boxing metaphor, I forgot. Well, Ra Ra Riot came out swinging fast and hard, but Arcade Fire used the illusion of the Hipster Mullet to dodge the blows. The Suburbs struck back with bowling alleys and movie theaters, while The Orchard started throwing apples. Wait what.
It’s a very close call, as both albums are certain to be on many Best of 2010 lists (and deservedly too). However, I’m going to say Ra Ra Riot wins this edition of New Junk. Did you really think I would pick against my future wife? There’s no way I’m sleeping on the couch tonight.