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Old 01-22-2011, 05:45 PM   #211
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Old 01-22-2011, 05:46 PM   #212
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Looking at the individual tracks, I have no specific reasoning for my distaste of High Violet. As a matter of fact, I don't really dislike it at all. This may sound petty, but I think part of it is the fact that they've allowed themselves to indulge their arrangements. The average song length has only gone up about 30 seconds or so, but the album feels mired in its misery, with only a handful of cathartic moments (England being the one that jumps out at me immediately). In contrast, The Suburbs, despite its length, has incredible pacing, and only the run from about 10-12 feels slightly dull. The first 6 or so tracks are breakneck, especially Empty Room.

Basically, Arcade Fire knows how to sequence and pace an album and I'm not convinced that The National do. Alligator has that massive hole in the center of the album, and Boxer is so uniform in tempo (which I assumed would be a novelty at the time) as to make proper pacing nearly impossible. Then High Violet comes along and little has changed, except those sparkling, naive payoffs like Fake Empire and All the Wine are nowhere to be found.

Still, it's a very good listen, probably a 4/5 on my scale, I just think it's a rather safe one from a band who is capable of the very best, and I'm a little disappointed (but unsurprised) that it will be remembered as the very best of 2010 on Interf (except in EKYIW; they would probably go with Wide Awake In Europe).
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Old 01-22-2011, 06:07 PM   #213
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Looking at the individual tracks, I have no specific reasoning for my distaste of High Violet. As a matter of fact, I don't really dislike it at all. This may sound petty, but I think part of it is the fact that they've allowed themselves to indulge their arrangements. The average song length has only gone up about 30 seconds or so, but the album feels mired in its misery, with only a handful of cathartic moments (England being the one that jumps out at me immediately). In contrast, The Suburbs, despite its length, has incredible pacing, and only the run from about 10-12 feels slightly dull. The first 6 or so tracks are breakneck, especially Empty Room.
That's a great analysis. I think that you are correct to say that High Violet wallows in its misery, but to me that is one of its foremost strengths (given my love for Morrissey, that may not be a surprise).

High Violet is about fortitude in the face of uncontrollable circumstances ("What makes you think I'm enjoying being led to the flood...but I won't be no runaway"). Suburbs is more optimistic; it's about escaping such circumstances (as in Sprawl II). From my perspective, escaping disappointment and cultural malaise is a myth, so I'm inclined to see High Violet as the more poignant artistic statement, but I can see how other, less cynical listeners would prefer Suburbs.

It terms of pacing, I see High Violet as consistent in mood with enough character in the songs to keep it from becoming repetitive. "Anyone's Ghost" has a bit of swing," "Bloodbuzz" brings the energy, and "Runaway" and "Vanderlyle" are gentler moments. Whenever I hear Suburbs, however, the middle sounds nondescript. It begins and ends on remarkable high notes, but the middle, I think, could really have benefited from some editing. The message would be much more powerful had it been trimmed to perhaps twelve tracks.
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Old 01-22-2011, 06:30 PM   #214
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I will say that High Violet has only gone up in my estimation because of the lyrics. I've always thought of Berninger as an inconsistent lyricist, ranging from starkly poignant moments of clarity to obtuse non-sequitur ("I was afraid I'd eat your brains/because I'm evil" is a little bit of both ), but he tightens it up here, and I agree that maturation has given Matt a lot to ponder. The record stands out in their discography for that reason. I just wish the inspiration was channeled into something more optimistic. I realize, however, that this is all up to taste, and the reason I chose to focus on pacing is that it's more easily observed and (slightly) more objective.

My stab at a 5-star Suburbs:

1. The Suburbs
2. Ready to Start
3. Modern Man
4. Empty Room
5. City with No Children
6. Half Light I
7. Half Light II (No Celebration)
8. Suburban War
9. We Used to Wait
10. Sprawl I (Flatland)
11. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
12. The Suburbs (continued)

The album loses nothing with this track listing; the message becomes a lot more pointed without Rococo and Month of May, and Wasted Hours (this is where I start to feel the album is reiterating its point to an uncomfortable degree) and Deep Blue were never memorable to begin with. The rest can stay.
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Old 01-22-2011, 08:23 PM   #215
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I agree with Iron Yuppie that the middle is what brings Suburbs down, for me. Modern Man, Rococo, Wasted Hours, Deep Blue ... those songs don't do anything for me, and the latter two make an already repetitive album incredibly redundant.

I think your edit, LeMel, improves that album.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:11 AM   #216
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it's a lot simpler a choice for me. mainly, because i only heard one...but i just really like the national right now, and am not so much a fan of arcade fire at the moment. no deep reasoning behind it, other than i'm just really loving the national moreso than anything else that is as new to me.

the latter opinion might be considered blasphemy around here, i am aware. and i wouldn't consider funeral or neon bible to be bad. they're good albums. they're even great in some parts. as an entire album, i've never been compelled to listen to them repeatedly in their entirety as i am right now with high violet and boxer (i still don't have the others). they're not absolutely perfect albums either, and the more time HV spends living in my car's cd player, i'll probably start skipping tracks here and there until another album takes up residency. but for the moment, i can't think of anything i don't love about it. never being head over heels crazy about the arcade fire in general coupled with really not liking "ready to start" doesn't make me too interested in hearing the suburbs album.

all opinions regarding music and otherwise that i may express are subject to change at any time. so in a year or two i might get around to hearing suburbs and realize that in early 2011 i had my head so far up my own ass...you get the idea. kind of like how i ignored the giant thread about the national for so long before finally checking out the stuff.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:52 AM   #217
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Have you heard Alligator yet?
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:44 PM   #218
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Arguing whether or not one good album is better than another is like arguing if oranges taste better than strawberries. Both are good, some people are going to prefer one to the other for whatever reasons.

I will say this about both The National and Arcade Fire. Both have fans that completely blow both bands "greatness" completely out of proportion, and can sometimes sour you to both groups if you're the type of person who is annoyed by such things.
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:48 PM   #219
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Originally Posted by LemonMelon View Post

The album loses nothing with this track listing; the message becomes a lot more pointed without Rococo and Month of May, and Wasted Hours (this is where I start to feel the album is reiterating its point to an uncomfortable degree) and Deep Blue were never memorable to begin with. The rest can stay.
Agreed on Deep Blue. It's the least substantial track on the album, for me.

Anyway, we've talked this album to death. Which is great. A good piece of music deserves to be discussed.

But, for just a moment, let's talk about how Scottie Pippen's passing skills were completely overlooked and underrated.

He used to zip line drive bullet passes in the lane to MJ all day. Yet people only remember him for his defense and athleticism.
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:50 PM   #220
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MJ wouldn't be where he is today without Scottie.
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:57 PM   #221
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I'm a complete asshole. Also, Speak Now shits on every album that's been discussed in this thread.

HaHA!

College basketball!

I am Gus Johnson. In disguise.

 
Speaking of disguises. The Boss once wrote a song called "Brilliant Disguise." And, if I could go back and change my point rankings in this thread, I would put The Promise at #2 with 12 points, and bump everything else down a spot. That shit was great.
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Old 01-23-2011, 01:03 PM   #222
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Agreed on Deep Blue. It's the least substantial track on the album, for me.
Agreed as well. It's the one song on that album I could do without.
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Old 01-23-2011, 01:11 PM   #223
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Speaking of disguises. The Boss once wrote a song called "Brilliant Disguise." And, if I could go back and change my point rankings in this thread, I would put The Promise at #2 with 12 points, and bump everything else down a spot. That shit was great.
The Promise was excellent. It would have placed in my top five, but I'm not sure that it constitutes "new" music in the sense of a 2010 album. It does certainly rank amongst the strongest and most consistent music released for the year. The presence of "Racing in the Street" alone makes it worthy of that designation.
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Old 01-23-2011, 01:18 PM   #224
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Most definitely would have been in my Top 5 as well, but you're right, because it's not really new, I didn't include it.

Top reissue of the year, though, that whole Darkness box.
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Old 01-24-2011, 01:15 PM   #225
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I will say this about both The National and Arcade Fire. Both have fans that completely blow both bands "greatness" completely out of proportion, and can sometimes sour you to both groups if you're the type of person who is annoyed by such things.

they'd definitely make the list of "bands i liked at one point but currently hate, realize i don't hate if i listen to them, but their fans have made me loathe to even see the name mentioned." there are way more bands on that list than you'd think, and sometimes i think i'm being stupid when over-enthusiasm from other people kills a band for me. it's like over-exposure on the radio, or something. or maybe just annoying. i'm guilty of it at times, which is why it annoys me that i'm so annoyed. or maybe i'm just annoying.
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