Arcade Fire, ‘Suburbs/Month Of May’ – Could We Be In For A Concept Album?

In the breathless rush to post and tweet news of Arcade Fire’s new split 12″ single – which received its first play on Radio 1 tonight (May 26), and will be rush-released tomorrow – bloggers seem to have forgotten to ask themselves: are the songs any good?

Initially, they seem alarmingly slight. There’s none of the galloping, blazing-eyed urgency of, say, ‘No Cars Go’ or ‘Rebellion (Lies)’. Listen in to the lyrics, though, and there’s something intriguing going on.

‘Month Of May’, on first listen, sounds like yer basic Queens Of The Stone Age-style chainsaw rock chug: it’s essentially one chord all the way through. But the vernal title is wildly misleading: Win Butler is not tiptoeing through the tulips here.

“Month of May, it’s a violent thing,” he sings, conjuring images of nuclear annihilation with references to a violent wind, screaming, and a “city hit from above.”

‘Suburbs’, while far less aggressive sonically, is clearly a companion song, since it also hints at warfare and death from above – could we be in for a concept album, by any chance?

You’ll notice that word screaming again, and a reference to falling houses. Evidently, Arcade Fire have not lightened up one bit since ‘Neon Bible’. They might sound upbeat on first listen, but these are dark, mysterious songs.