AOTY 2021
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Critic Score
Based on 39 reviews
2010 Ratings: #4 / 900
Year End Rank: #2
User Score
2010 Ratings: #10
Liked by 95 people
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If nostalgia is just pain recalled, repaired, and resold, then The Suburbs is its sales manual.

Consequence of Sound

The idea behind The Suburbs is simple, if not universal. It’s about aging. Of course it’s deeper than that, but if you were to summarize all the underlying emotions and just cut right to the chase, it’s really about coming to grips with the full package that is growing up.

The Fly

‘The Suburbs’ is an astonishing achievement for Arcade Fire; it boasts exquisite sophisticated songwriting that subtly taps into a sense of modern existential anxiety and elevates its makers yet again into a different musical league entirely.

NOW Magazine
Some might argue that the album is bloated and overlong, but it's the denseness that makes it feel like such a Statement Record.
God Is in the TV

It seems that absolutely everything that Win and Co. lay their hands on turns into pure musical gold. It doesn't matter if it sounds how Arcade Fire 'should' sound. The simple fact remains: 'The Suburbs' is a flawless album.

The Independent

The prevailing tone of The Suburbs is of a more reflective, nostalgic bent – as if rumination upon the past might indeed offer a valid refuge from the uncertainties and worries of the present.


Arcade Fire, because they’re really this damn good, are among the very few indie bands that could attempt a 65-minute album about the philosophical quandaries of the suburbs and pull it off completely.

Beats Per Minute

There’s no shortage of the group’s usual flag-waving stadium rock ... but this time around, they are balanced out by hushed, pensive ballads.

A.V. Club

Butler and company imbue The Suburbs with such a strong sense of place and mood that it builds in impact throughout.

Entertainment Weekly

At 60-plus minutes, Suburbs could use an edit, but it seems churlish to begrudge them a little indulgence when there is so much here to savor.


Arcade Fire have never been a band shy of tackling big themes. Their momentous debut album Funeral addressed death, somehow making it seem invigorating and inspiring, as well as tragic, epic and heartrending, while 2007's Neon Bible melded religion and natural disasters (the tsunami, the New Orleans floods) in a portentous, unsettling blend of pomp and darkness.

They’ve judged their moment perfectly, and this deserves to be their ‘Automatic For The People’; an album that combines mass accessibility with much greater ambition.

The Suburbs burns on behalf of the belief that modern culture is missing its heart — and to give up the search is to send one’s soul to oblivion.

No Ripcord

They’ve spent most of the decade shouting to be heard, but now they are content to let the music and the message flower and take root.  You might think they are just tired, but their nervous energy survives intact.

The 405
There is a good mix of high energy, upbeat and hecticness in parts of this sixteen track record that go together well with calmer arrangements giving this a beauty and a beast element.
Under The Radar

Trying to put The Suburbs in historical context at this stage is difficult, but it evokes Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation in its evocation of political discontent coupled with sheer white noise outbursts.

While it could be said there’s a lack of the primal force that dominated ‘Funeral’, it’s been replaced with craft and beauty.
Slant Magazine

Another triumph of emotional generosity from the most humane and vital rock group of our generation.


Taking their perennial themes of loss, fear, control and time they’ve re-woven their epic art rock around their fascinating suburban theme that literally lies on our own doorstep.


Scanning in at 16-tracks and bookended by tantalising tasters from the title track, 'The Suburbs' is a beautifully crafted and judged record.

Pretty Much Amazing

The Suburbs is perhaps the most coherent schizophrenic you will ever meet, for though the guidance offered in its songs may be contradictory, the subject matter is never under discussion.


At 16 tracks, this dense, complicated set covers considerably more stylistic territory than either of the band's previous albums.


It's a satisfying return to form-- proof that Arcade Fire can still make grand statements without sounding like they're carrying the weight of the world.

Coke Machine Glow

The Suburbs is that composed, mature culmination in forlorn adulthood (acceptance). It’s a staid achievement—a soundtrack to unwillingly letting go of the unsustainable, both figurative and literal.


Swelling at 16 songs and an hour-plus runtime, it’s Arcade Fire’s most ambitious and concept-driven effort to date.

Drowned in Sound

A few nights ago, I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to write my review of Arcade Fire’s third album in real time. I would allot myself its not inconsiderable running length to bash out this article, whilst also, crucially, knocking back a finger of beer for each mention of “the kids” or “the suburbs” in Win Butler’s lyrics.

Tiny Mix Tapes

Arcade Fire’s seven members resemble an archetypal family. They grew up — on record, anyway — in the bittersweet nostalgia of small neighborhoods, remembering the bedrooms of their parents and the bedrooms of their friends; moved on to the bright lights of histrionic cities, trying to avoid it when the planes hit the ground; and now, migrated to the suburbs. (Where else does one go after producing Neon Bible, one of the decade’s more somber statements on existence?) But far from a comforting escape from all that came before, Arcade Fire’s suburbia is a lot like Cheever’s: menacing, shadowing the depression of lost innocence and the paranoia of adulthood behind a pretty white picket fence.


The Suburbs is a prize-winning, finely tuned botanical garden, and Butler has every right to say whatever he pleases to his trespassers.

American Songwriter

The Suburbs offers plenty of the dense and stately keyboard-heavy pop that fans of the band have come to expect, with some much-appreciated frothier moments, but a melancholy theme of reluctant adulthood, or resistance to change, runs through even the more lightweight numbers.

Rolling Stone
The strange thing about Arcade Fire is how they instinctively scale their most intimate confessions to arena-rock levels, rolling out big drums and glossy keyboards.
The Guardian

There's something charming about the way an album about growing up in the suburban 80s gradually starts to resemble a chart rundown from 1983.

The Needle Drop

On Arcade Fire's latest album, they take the most ambitious and immediate elements of their previous albums, and feed them into americana-style songwriting.

Spectrum Culture

If there is one thing that separates the Arcade Fire from their contemporaries, it’s their ability to expose a human’s beating heart and hold it up undaunted.

FACT Magazine

The Suburbs is one last attempt to understand what it means to be an adult in the face of the unavoidable future of settling down and becoming your parents.

Alternative Press

At 16 songs, The Suburbs could have been compressed into a focused, stinging album, but as it stands, the band’s tendency to dip into art-school pretentiousness and tired lyrical clichés drags the whole ship down.


Last year’s war of words between the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Arcade Fire front man Win Butler was, at the time, an enjoyable diversion. Although Coyne’s comments (about what he perceived as arrogance in Butler’s crew) seemed somewhat impolite and petty, the flare-up between the two acts injected some energy and fun into a modern rock scene that is too often stuffy and image-conscious. Butler responded, Coyne apologized then retracted his apology, and finally the whole affair died down. Both bands continued to sell records and make money.

Record Collector
On the whole, the introspective, personal nature of the subject matter jars with the overblown arrangements that carry them.
Although "The Suburbs" is one of my favorite songs ever made, the rest of the album feels kinda lackluster and nothing really tops the first song.
Arcade Fire is the true meaning of nostalgia in every single way possible.
Bruce Springsteen is to indie rock what Mark Twain is to American literature.

Springsteen's fingerprints are everywhere: the overly earnest, straining vocals as he croons about how *goddamn awful* the American Dream is has been an indie staple since the 70's. Arcade Fire took up his dying flame with zest, and it seemed they were going to do Springsteen one better by actually writing good songs. That is until Everything Now. But that's a review for another time.

The first time I felt ... read more
The reason I'm evaluating this album is a bit funny. Last week I was asked to make a list of albums that I thought deserved to have won AOTY (with the respective academy nominations) in the past decade, and I ended up realizing that I never got to give a chance to this album (even though I already knew about the project a long time ago), but as this project won over The Fame Monster (which is my favorite Gaga album) I was wondering how good it would have to be to win against a mainstream ... read more
cooliooo 🥰

• modern man
• empty room
• half light I
• wasted hours
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