It’s always nice to visit with an old friend. Just a couple of nights ago I found myself in the house of a girl I know from high school, spinning around in an embrace with one of my best friends from that time. I rarely see her now, but still count her just as close as we go about our separate social circles and busy lives. We have changed so much, as was made clear to me as I danced to vintage house with the two friends who came along with me in the kitchen and everyone else was gathered around the marble island, talking and drinking. I wished I’d had more time with my friend, but she was busy with a guy at the party, and we were all intoxicated anyway. She came back to a conversation I was having with my other two friends, joking about herself and goofily pulling sexy poses on the furniture. We loved having her there. She still laughs the same way that she always did: completely jovially. It was so great to have her back, even if briefly. I didn’t see her for the rest of the night and haven’t spoken to her since, because even if she and I are unchanged, my friends and I were the only ones dancing at the party. Still, that’s enough.
Why am I telling you this? Well, as I sit here and type, I am visiting with a very old and dear friend of a different sort. The first time I heard The Suburbs, I was fourteen years old. My mother and I were visiting in Ottawa, and I had stopped into an HMV in search of the new Horrors album I’d read about in NYLON. Arcade Fire had won the Grammy award for best album, and to celebrate its one-year anniversary, a special deluxe edition was released with two added tracks and a bunch of other bonus material. I found the album I was looking for, but couldn’t shake my curiosity to finally hear for the first time the homegrown band that everyone was talking about. My mother bought me one of the deluxe reissues, and I played it as soon as I got home. I loved it right away, and it became the only album I played for a while after that. A year later, Arcade Fire played a free outdoor show in my city on the last day of summer, and exactly one week before my birthday. I stood in the middle of Place-des-Arts with my cousin and an old friend until my feet (and legs, and back) were aching, and finally the stage lights dimmed. My throat was sore for the next three days, and Arcade Fire became my favourite band.
Over the years, I’ve delved into their older albums and let them grow like moss over my chest. I’ve followed them into Reflektor, seen them live once more, went to see their documentary last fall as a birthday present to myself. But, much as my life has changed academically, socially, personally, so has my music life changed. I’ve been listening to a lot of different things: acousmatic music, old disco and house, eighties anything, nineties female-fronted Hip Hop, Delta blues, Davy Graham and other folk heroes, audio samples, atonal electroacoustics, art rock, The Magnetic Fields, etc. Arcade Fire took a back seat for a while, but listening to The Suburbs again, I can still affirm that they are my favourite band.
Music means the world to me, and so visiting this musical friend is more weighted than I could anticipate, and couldn’t have come at a better time. Along with everything that’s been keeping me busy in my life outside and inside of music, I’ve been having a rough go. Things have been moving along quite coarsely for me; between being jobless for the summer, too wrapped up in finishing my school year to devote time to my guitar, things being tense at home and (probably most consuming of all) having my heart broken by a crush I can’t shake, it hasn’t been very easy. Hearing this album now is like having a good chat with a friend you didn’t know you missed so much until you saw them again. It’s reassuring to know that when I feel totally on my own, an old album can be my backbone, my springboard, my resting place, the best advice I’ve ever gotten. It gives me the strength and foundation to pick myself up, dust myself off, and continue on wards to personal fulfillment. So, I’d like to introduce you to an old and dear friend of mine for this month’s album. And, if I could have your permission dear reader, I’d like to refrain from breaking the album down and analyzing it for two reasons 1) I’m mentally worn out from finishing my first year of university and don’t think I have much intelligent commentary left (I wasted all of that on a research paper on black vernacular) and, more importantly, 2) This album is so personal to me that I feel my own interpretations of it will more than likely not be the same as yours. That being said, I’d like for you to experience it on your own, and let it create for you a story that you might write about some day, as I am doing now.
I honestly cannot wait for you to hear this album (if you haven’t already) and I hope you enjoy the places it’s sure to take you. I’d love to hear about them.
From my hometown hideout to yours,