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|Written by Mike Cullen|
|Wednesday, 06 October 2010 00:00|
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Arcade Fire is a really difficult band to review. It's not that its members put out a poor product -- far from it. In fact, there's something about playing any of their three albums on a stereo that leaves you with only half the experience. When I recommend the band to friends I tell them to pick up the albums but to actually go see them live the next time they have a chance. Their sound is symphonic live. I saw them back in 2005 when they opened for U2 during the Vertigo Tour; this was just before they really hit it big. They filled the arena with their sound, literally, and there's this sense of euphoria when you hear them live. It's really an experience that no music lover should miss out on.
With their third album, The Suburbs, Arcade Fire have managed to give us another perfectly succinct and packaged album. I've heard a number of really great albums over the summer that had thematic ties to them, whether intentional or not, but this band takes it to the next level with all of their work. In fact, Matt Perpetua of Fluxblog suggested that this album encapsulates the theme of life and living told backwards. We started with Funeral, continued on back with Neon Bible, and have ended figuratively at the beginning with The Suburbs, which explores not only life in a non-urban landscape but also youth. This is probably my favorite of their albums beginning with the opening title track from very distinct folk sound to the more baroque-pop sounding "Sprawl II." Inside and out, this album is perfection. In the end, The Suburbs will add to ArcadeFfire's growing list of accolades.
Armin van Buuren Ft. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - "Not Giving Up on Love"
The second single for Sophie Ellis-Bextor's upcoming fourth album has her going for harder dance grooves with the assistance of renowned DJ Armin van Buuren. Ellis-Bextor has struggled in recent years to gain any real notoriety within the pop arena. While a great track, "Not Giving Up on Love" doesn't really build on anything career-wise for Sophie; it's great beat and simple type of pop lyrics are definitely an earworm, but it's a song that will end up being forgotten in six months' time. It's disposable pop. Unless she comes up with a mega hit for a third single, Ellis-Bextor may find herself with a career in the toilet. It's too bad because she has the voice and the style to pull it off as a pop star, but, in a genre that boasts the likes of Madonna, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, Ke$sha and others as the reigning queens, she just doesn't seem to stand a chance. Great track overall, but Sophie, you need to step up your game just a little more.
Marina & the Diamonds - "Shampain"
Marina & the Diamonds is one of my favourite new acts of this year. This one-woman show has been around for a while now, but the new-wave-inspired pop artist has only hit it really big this year -- especially in the UK -- with her debut album, The Family Jewels. One of the best tracks from the album, "Shampain," is set to be released in October as the latest in a series of successful singles for the young female artist. There are a lot of great qualities to this song -- it's catchy, both melodically and lyrically, and Marina is not afraid to work with some darker material, explaining that this song is about the grimness of being drunk. What's most refreshing is that she's not trying to be pure pop, yet she's not trying to emulate other female artists of her genre and age (La Roux comes to mind). Marina succeeds in this short, three-minute song in showing not only depth as an artist, but that she has her own unique sound and voice. Not only is this a great song, but the remainder of the album is equally fantastic.
Tags: arcade fire, armin van buuren, balance, can con, folk, marina & the diamonds, music, not giving up on love, pop, review, shampain, sophie ellis bextor, the suburbs