I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of often bombastic alt-rock darlings, Arcade Fire. However, I’m intrigued by the Montreal-based group's latest release, "The Suburbs", a concept album centered around the theme of, you guessed it, suburban sprawl, a topic that I recently covered in posts about the American Makeover web series and the launch of the Sustainable Cities Institute.
The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) recently published an excellent blog post by Colleen McHugh that dissects "The Suburbs" and explores themes of suburbia and urban planning in music and pop culture — David Byrne is namechecked, natch. McHugh writes: “At times nostalgic and at times cautionary, 'The Suburbs' may be most notable (certainly in the realm of SPUR’s blog) as an example of city planning commentary in pop culture.”
McHugh goes on to say:
Arcade Fire’s "The Suburbs" isn’t as much about suburbanism versus urbanism, or cars versus bicycles, as it is a question of 'What now?' The album’s vision of suburbia may not exactly be an ideal place to live — not in the 1980s and certainly not upon returning to it today. But the narrator of the album does return, nostalgic for his wasted hours of youth and fearful of what may remain for his children. If suburbia is no longer necessarily the dream, what is to be made of those communities we built in the '70s?
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