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Arcade Fire – The Suburbs Lyrics 10 years ago
This album is about the inevitable destruction of the west. It says there will be no sudden explosion, no atom bomb, no religious apocalypse to wipe the slate clean. Instead western society will simply decline to the point of social captivity and the dominance of the few over the many.
This song portays someone's life at the start of this innevitable and slow apocolypse. The song starts will a happy — go — lucky honky tonk piano. The basic and mostly major chord structure jangles along nicely the only blemish being Am to E which sound oh so slightly wrong. “In the suburbs I learnt to drive” the lyrics are told reflectively with a sense of innocence, of living a normal life with a family and a car. The author tells through the eyes of innocence how he is forced away from a friend who was 'standing on the opposite shore' but “by the bombs fell we were already bored”. Society doesn't care, it has come to accept the violence, the hatred, this is normal.
In the chorus the bass becomes heavy and distorted, creating an more ominous tone compared to the blissfully ignorant verse. “somtimes I can't believe it, I'm moving past the feeling”. Sometimes the author is able to step out of the brainwash of society, the media etc and see the madness that is unfolding around him. But he is moving past the feeling, these moments are becoming rare, he is beginning not to care, he is coming to accept the madness. And all the while the heavy bass pounds along relentlessly.
The second verse is quite specific in that it details how 'kids wana be so hard' (they have grown up in a world which trains them to be soldiers) and the peace movements of the past have ultimately failed, “and all of the houses they built in the 70's finally fall, meant nothing at all it meant nothing”.
When the second chorus hits ethereal strings accompany the bass creating a sense of great loss as your heart rises to your throat. This mirrors the shame of the author at the failure of society and his inability to change it or even acknowledge it within himself. He must hide this feeling, he must tell himself that it is wrong to feel this way and that these feeling are crazy. He must move past the feeling and into the night.
“So can you understand why I want a daughter while I'm still young?” Can you understand why he would want to show his daughter the beauty of the world before it is destroyed. Why he would want to remind himself that there was once another world in another time. He is begging for this. But if its too much to ask, he will have a son and he will accept defeat in the face of overwhelming darkness. He will submit himself and sacrifice his children to this monster.
In his heart the author knows that the point of no return has been passed, the world will never be the same again. “So move your feet from hot pavement and into the grass” (the safe comfortable suburbs, surrender) “Cause its already past, its already already passed”.
“We're still screaming”

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