It has been the best part of four years since the release of the grandiose and sonically immense Neon Bible an album so enormous in scope and colossal in sound it was declared an independent republic with its own national anthem Intervention.
Now Arcade Fire have returned with The Suburbs which has already been incessantly compared by music aficionados as Arcade Fire s OK Computer or Automatic for the People despite the fact that those albums are so deeply imbued with emotional resonance for those reviewers that an to attempt to make an objective comparison would be both deeply foolish and journalistically indolent.
Perhaps reflective of the title, this offering is a sprawling sixteen track neighbourhood replete with the usual mix of local extraverts weirdoes and conformists.
For existing fans of Arcade Fire you may think that you are familiar with the troupe of Canadians who have newly moved from obscurity into suburban mp3 players. You saw the removal men take in the glockenspiels violas and French horns and you knew what to expect but when they had their first house party and you were not invited their first track is all piani and unfamiliar.
Arcade Fire almost developed a leitmotif with Funeral and Neon Bible and although you will recognise them, they do sound different here. Urgent with Month of May poppy with Sprawl II and introspective with We Used to Wait.
Less likely to thrill but certainly providing accomplished chord progressions are Rococo and City With No Children the latter being somewhat atypical and riffy for Arcade Fire.
Rightfully you should be apprehensive of such an expansive musical metropolis and almost inevitably a record of such verboseness will be contractually obliged to contain a higher percentage of less welcome tracks. You will skip.
Admittedly a fairly obscure and difficult to love band, Arcade Fire go from strength to super-strength with The Suburbs.
Although the songs are less big here they are more like songs and less like operatic performance and maybe this could just make them the household name they probably deserve to be.
Difficult third album? Different third album.