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Music / The Suburbs

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And just when I knew what I wanted to say / A violent wind blew the wires away.

The Suburbs is the third studio album by Arcade Fire, released in 2010. A Concept Album, leader Win Butler wrote the bulk of the lyrics inspired by memories of growing up in The Woodlands, which is, yes, a suburb of Houston, Texas.

The Suburbs can be seen as the album that really broke Arcade Fire as a globally huge rock act. It debuted at the top of the charts in Canada, The United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, and subsequently won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2011.


  1. "The Suburbs" - 5:15
  2. "Ready to Start" - 4:15
  3. "Modern Man" - 4:39
  4. "Rococo" - 3:56
  5. "Empty Room" - 2:51
  6. "City with No Children" - 3:11
  7. "Half Light I" - 4:13
  8. "Half Light II (No Celebration)" - 4:25
  9. "Suburban War" - 4:45
  10. "Month of May" - 3:50
  11. "Wasted Hours" - 3:20
  12. "Deep Blue" - 4:28
  13. "We Used to Wait" - 5:01
  14. "Sprawl I (Flatland)" - 2:54
  15. "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" - 5:25
  16. "The Suburbs (Continued)" - 1:27

Principal Members:

  • Will Butler - Synthesizer, piano, vocals, guitar, bass, organ
  • Win Butler - Lead vocals, guitar, piano
  • Regine Chassagne - Lead vocals, drums, piano, harpsichord, synthesizer, organ, keyboard strings
  • Jeremy Gara - Drums, percussion, piano, synthesizer
  • Tim Kingsbury - Bass, guitar, vocals, percussion
  • Sarah Neufeld - Violin, vocals
  • Richard Reed Parry - Guitar, vocals, double bass, piano, harpsichord, percussion

If tropes were yours, but they're not:

  • Album Title Drop: "The Suburbs."
    In the suburbs I, I learned to drive
    And you told me we'd never survive
    Grab your mother's keys we're leavin'
  • Alliterative Title: "Month of May", "Modern Man".
  • Break Up Song: "Empty Room"
    Said your name, in an empty room
    Said your name, in an empty room
    Something I would never do
    I'm alone again
  • Claustrophobia: "City With No Children" has a verse that could make a claustrophobe break out in hives:
    I dreamed I drove to Houston on a highway that was underground
    There was no light that we could see as we listened to the sound
    Of the engines failing.
  • Concept Album: Not a linear story, but serves as "a letter from the suburbs" as Butler put it.
  • Dark Reprise: The title track sounds at least tentatively hopeful when played at the top of the album. The abbreviated version at the end sounds tired and defeated.
    If I could have it back
    All the time that we wasted
    I'd only waste it again
    Waste it again, and again, and again...
  • Deliberately Monochrome: "Ready To Start" was promoted with a black and white performance video.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: From "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)":
    These days my life I feel it has no purpose
    But late at night the feelings swim to the surface.
  • Emo Teen: From "Month Of May":
    So young
    So young
    So much pain for someone so young
    I know it's heavy, I know it ain’t light
    But how are you gonna lift it with your arms folded tight.
  • Gratuitous French: "Empty Room"
    Toute ma vie, est avec toi
    Toute ma vie, est avec toi
    Moi, j' attends, toi tu pars
  • Hipster: On "Rococo", the band – who have kind of a hipster background themselves – take on hipster audiences who abandoned them for being too mainstream.
  • Nostalgia Filter: "The Suburbs"
    And all of the walls that they built in the seventies finally fall
    And all of the houses they built in the seventies finally fall
    Meant nothing' at all, meant nothing' at all, It meant nothing
  • One-Man Song: "Modern Man".
  • One-Word Title: "Rococo"
  • Shout-Out: The first line of "Ready To Start", "If the business men drink my blood…" is lyrically very close to Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower".
  • Special Guest: The deluxe edition bonus track "Speaking in Tongues" features backing vocals from David Byrne; of note is that the song shares its title with an album by Byrne's former band Talking Heads.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: To date this is the Arcade Fire album where Regine Chassagne takes the most lead vocals, as distinguished from backing and harmony vocals.
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe the subject of "We Used To Wait", which isn't wholly positive on things like texting taking over from letter writing.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: "The Suburbs"
    But by the time the first bombs fell
    We were already bored
  • You Are Number 6: “Modern Man” draws a connection between taking a number and being reduced to a number.

Alternative Title(s): The Suburbs Arcade Fire Album