Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”: Music Video Review

11/23/2010 Posted by Admin

Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”

Music Video Review

By our guest blogger, Morgan Davis

Back in October an Arcade Fire fan posted a video for “The Suburbs” using clips from Jonathan Kaplan’s influential film "Over the Edge." With its bleak account of a coming “suburban war” and Win Butler’s continued fascination with the feelings and anxieties of youth, “The Suburbs” fit right in with "Over the Edge"’s explosive emotions. Maybe Spike Jonze saw that fan video, or maybe he’d come to a similar conclusion on his own already, but whatever the case, the official video for “The Suburbs” is "Over the Edge" by way of "Synecdoche, New York"--a tense, confusing work that turns the suburban experience on its head.

Filmed in Austin in a neighborhood that looks suspiciously like the type that the Butler brothers (and myself) grew up in around Houston, “The Suburbs” splits its time between blissed out views of teens riding on bikes and being mischievous and the darkness looming on the edge of town. Jonze doesn’t make it clear exactly what is happening in “The Suburbs,” but the military trucks and armed personnel enacting martial law prove that something sinister is brewing. At first the kids are more or less alright, aware of the conflict but not part of it until something breaks the barrier and pulls them down with it. By the conclusion of the video, the kids are no longer kids but instead victims of a violent introduction to adulthood.

“The Suburbs” is apparently just a sampler of a larger work Spike Jonze will be releasing soon called "Scenes from the Suburbs," but even so, it works perfectly well on its own. Jonze has artfully merged the Arcade Fire’s comforting capacity for making the suburban feel majestic with their discomforting knack for hinting at darkness to come, creating a video that may not have his usual high concept flavor but instead rewards repeated viewings. It may leave you with more questions than answers but in a way that’s the point--Arcade Fire and Jonze are both artists who have always been fascinated with the layers that lurk beneath the ordinary.

View the video below. Thoughts?

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  1. Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

    I love this video, almost post apocalyptic, big brother... I'll be interested in seeing more..