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Depending how you look at it, either indie rock got a final nail in the coffin this August when The Suburbs hit number one on the Billboard 200 and Arcade Fire sold out back-to-back shows at Madison Square Garden, or it experienced its greatest moment of glory, cementing a place outside its usual niche and in the greater public consciousness. Either way, it's fitting that The Suburbs is a return to indie rock purism. On it, a band plays songs like they mean it, about things that are important to them—in this case, the struggle between big-city ambition and suburban virtue; about who they were and who they are. Something a lot of New York transplants can relate to.
Nostalgia ran deep in 2010, but Arcade Fire didn't pander to woozy keyboard lines and a longing to retreat to the womb. They dug deep, crafting an album that rewards patience and repeated listens. The more you listen—you have to really listen—the more The Suburbs serves as a reminder of why we care about music in the first place: because it makes us feel and think about things we hold dear and the things that trouble us. "2009, 2010, wanna make a record how I felt then,"Win sings on "Month of May."Turns out, he did much more than that. Key track: "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"