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One night near the end of April this year, my wife and I will be on the floor of the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, with several good friends and 20,000+ other people who have gathered for an Arcade Fire show. At some point that night, the band will play "Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)" from their latest album, Reflektor. About three minutes into that slow-building song—which foregrounds a lulling synth and Win Butler's mournful vocals over rolling drums—there will be a sudden break, a beat of ba-dum, ba-ba-dum, and an implicit invitation for the crowd to toss up their hands, lift their voices in one accord, and shout-sing the chorus: "I know there's a way / we can make 'em pay / Think it over and say / 'I'm never going back again.'"
A few minutes later we'll sing along, and probably sway, to a lamenting bridge: "We know there's a price to pay / For love in a reflective age." Tens of thousands of people in Denver, enjoying an anthem laced with lament, whose layers of sound (blended by music producer and LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy) are matched to layers of cultural heritage combining Greek myth, Kierkegaard, and The Beatles. (That song's finale will raise our voices in another kind of chorus, a chant of Orpheus-meets-Paul McCartney: "La la -- La la la -- La la la la la -- La la la la.") I can hardly wait.
More than any other major band working today, Arcade Fire is a rock band for our time. Their songs concern some of the most familiar features of our age—digital media, suburban blight, individualistic spirituality—attached in lead singer Win Butler's lyrics to universal themes—alienation, friendship, ...
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