Revised: The Suburbs

February 28th 2011

I’m not here to discuss the validity of the Arcade Fire’s Grammy win, because we all know the Grammys are a fucking joke. Just because a secret cabal of wealthy dinosaurs who usually hand out increasingly irrelevant genre awards to a very small pool of artists they’ve heard of suddenly award a credible/relevant band an award as a desperate grasp for credibility/relevance, doesn’t mean that the music industry in its current form won’t still die.

Rather, now that The Suburbs is back in our collective consciousness again after a solid gestation period, I’d like to talk about its oft-criticised second half and overall length of the record, and how with judicious pruning can seem like an exciting prospect all over again.

On my iTunes the official playlist has 16, count ‘em, 16 songs. 16! That’s a lot of songs – and with several pushing past five minutes, it’s a daunting listen. It’s time to unsheathe your shears.

First, remove Sprawl I and rename Sprawl II (Mountains beyond Mountains) something new to reflect that there’s now only one of them. I called it Sprawl, because I feel the subtitle is unnecessary now, and that the idea of the sprawl was far more important to the song.

While you’re at it, cut Half Light I, and rename Half Light II (No Celebration) to reflect this also. I went simple again, with Half Light.

Now we’re getting somewhere! The first thing you’ll notice now is that Sprawl doesn’t feel like an orphan at the end, but builds upon We Used To Wait. And with the removal of Half Light I (a pretty but completely inessential song), the middle section doesn’t drag like it used to.

The second half is still a little bloated, drab, and samey, so it’s time to make some tough decisions. I would suggest cutting at least one song. I chose two.

First, I got rid of Deep Blue, as I feel Wasted Hours AND Deep Blue next to each other was a total buzz kill. Then – and this is possibly a little controversial – I got rid of Month Of May, because I don’t think it does very much, and probably should have been left as a b-side to the The Suburbs single.

So much better after some nipping and tucking! Obviously this isn’t the only way to go about this, and I haven’t even touched on changing the order, but isn’t it amazing that you can take out four songs, almost 15 minutes of music, and the album still looks like a complete album!

Anyway, that’s how I’d do it. How would you edit The Suburbs into an Album of the Year Contender? Are there any other albums you think should be reordered/cut down?


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