Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Arcade Fire: The Suburbs [Merge, 2010]
With beats this straight and stolid, you'd better keep the anthems coming, and they do, almost. Acclimate yourself and maybe you'll check in with track three (at 1:20, the "chosen few" stuff) or even track two (just 29 seconds until "Businessmen they drink my wine"). Certainly track four, the sub-four-minutes reproach "Rococo" ("ro-co-co-ro-co-co-ro-co-co-ro-co-co," although that rendering shortchanges the rhythmic nuances). Then you'll put the record aside for a week or two, and when you return you'll be back to backgrounding it till track five, six seconds of violin pre-climax to the speedy intro to the sub-three-minutes Régine Chassagne feature "Empty Room," followed hard on by the determined "City With No Children." After that it'll be as back-and-forth as Win Butler's thematics till Ms. Chassagne climaxes the opus with the wholehearted "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)." Then you'll remember just why you wanted to put it on, and soon you'll be coming in at "Rococo" yet again. A-