Arcade Fire is overrated

The new year brings new hype
By MATTHEW GASTEIER  |  January 16, 2007

070119_inside_downs
OVERRATED?: Arcade Fire
Now that the Best of 2006 lists are all finished and everyone has stopped arguing over whether TV on the Radio are overrated, we can get back to discussing whether the Arcade Fire are overrated? The new year brings new hype, and a number of big indie bands have announced follow-ups to their breakthrough records. What’s more, they’ve released singles, so we get to pass pre-emptive judgment on their hard work.

Arcade Fire ,"Black Mirror"
The Arcade Fire’s debut, Funeral, was indeed somewhat overrated, but the subtle changes throughout this single from their upcoming Neon Bible really work. There’s the slight piano hook that cuts in briefly once or twice, and the swirling strings that build and recede as the song ebbs and flows. And lead singer Win Butler’s voice doesn’t seem so strained anymore. It’s a good look for him, and a promising leadoff.

LCD Soundsystem, “North American Scum”
Everything about this song says, “Welcome back, James Murphy.” There’s the removed-yet-flawless delivery (“For those of you who still think we are from England . . . We’re not”), the driving krautrock beat, the slick DIY perfection that defines DFA production, and, best of all, a new battle cry for everyone who thinks they’re losing their edge: “We are North American scum!”

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, “Love Song No. 7”
It might have everything that made the group and their homonymous debut the blog heroes of 2005, but “Love Song No. 7” is missing something. Or maybe it’s adding something: the slick production that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah avoided. Whatever, vocals and pianos that could have been stark and haunting turn out ballad-like and tone-heavy. Let’s hope this isn’t a sign that the whole CD will lack the band’s defining rawness.

Modest Mouse, “Dashboard”
Although Johnny “The Smiths” Marr has joined the group on guitar, this is no jangly emo track. Everything about “Dashboard” screams single, from the big horns and bigger strings to the back-up vocals that echo the refrain “The dashboard melted but we still have the radio.” A nice sentiment; I wish I knew some 13-year-olds to play it for.

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