More on Arcade Fire and the Suburban Soul (and Self-Promotion)

Paul Harvey

Monday I posted briefly about the Grammys, including surprise winner for Best Album, Arcade Fire. In (as Luke Harlow would say) the best self-promotional RiAH tradition, I draw your attention to Religion Dispatches today, where I develop those thoughts on Arcade Fire at greater length, with a piece about their current record The Suburbs and previous efforts Funeral and Neon Bible. A little excerpt below, and then you can follow the link from there:

Has there been a major pop group more concerned with exploring personal anxieties, aspirations, and narratives through music defined so fundamentally by religious themes? The turmoil and paranoia of the last decade—wars, attacks, economic crashes, myriad color-coded fears—run through Arcade Fire’s three full-length records: Funeral, Neon Bible, and The Suburbs. The newest effort induces a tour of previous decades, when suburbia seemed (but only seemed) to offer placidity and refuge from the wilderness downtown.


Luke Harlow said…
Paul--this essay is fabulous. Really enjoyable reading. I'm by no means an Arcade Fire expert, but I definitely like their albums. On a (very broadly) related point: is there any truth to the oft-cited story that "Antichrist Television Blues" is really about Joe Simpson, the once-Baptist (always Baptist?) minister who began to manage Jessica and Ashlee's careers? If so, there's all kinds of valences here with American religion and vapid pop culture. (And even if not, it's a fabulous song that fits in well with all the themes of your essay.)
Paul Harvey said…
Luke: Have read that too, no idea if it's "true" (and given that in some interviews Win Butler says his real influence is not religion but some weird 80s movies, I'm not inclined to trust authorial intention anyway). Regardless, one can think of any number of inspirations for the tune -- I had a paragraph about this in the original essay, but cut it since I was way over word budget as it was. Anyway, glad you liked it. Now, it's back to the 17th century for me!