By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Des Moines, IA
Ive never spent enough appreciable time in the suburbs to sincerely comprehend what Arcade Fire are trying to get at in their albumat least, not on a legitimately personal level. But what I do remember is that living in the old prewar heart of the city as a kidwhen almost everybody in the movies and on TV occupied nice, clean suburban neighborhoods that revolved around shopping malls and high school parking lotsmade me suspect that I was disconnected from something bigger and more supposedly universal than what I was living through. So maybe thats why I cant entirely connect with the themes of The Suburbsthat, and Rococo acting as further evidence that anti-hipster contempt is the last refuge of the self-righteous/self-conscious. But it sounds good enough as oversize anthemic rock that I wouldnt mind this replacing John Hughes as the go-to fantasy of teenage angst in the sprawl.
St. Paul, MN
Of course, the knock against the suburbs has always been that every house looks the same. So when at first people had trouble distinguishing The Suburbs songs from each other, it felt like a little bit too much thematic consistency. However, as anyone who grew up in the suburbs could tell you, once you get inside the houseseven the ones with the exact same floor planstheyre all totally different, compelling, and usually weirder than you could have possibly imagined.
Jim Connelley Glendale, CA
I adore the idea of Vampire Weekend; their reviews are almost as fun to read as their albums are to listen to. I prefer Contra to the debut because Ezra Koenig (and in the exceptional Diplomats Son, Rostam Batmanglij) fleshes out scenarios, lyrically and vocally. Theyre on to something: the intersection of fashion, homoeroticism, and memory. And as fun as these tracks are, unease is part of the aftershock, too. Koenigs narrators, way over the threshold of adulthood, evaluate situations whose complexity is beyond their education. Since even Contras songs boast the airiest of textures, losing patience with Vampire Weekend is part of the package: The lightness and brevity of these songs frustrate my attempts to pin them down. Intersections arent full stops.
In their shared commitment to demolishing binary oppositions (East/West, Black/White, Us/Them), Vampire Weekend, Das Racist, and Titus Andronicus constitute what I like to think of as the second wave of college rock, one thats absorbed the post-structuralist theory so prevalent on the 80s campuses that birthed R.E.M. et al.
New York, NY
One of the scariest developments of the past year has been the rise to the mainstream of a loose collective of overwhelmingly white reactionaries, defined by a self-contradicting hatred of East Coast elites, a complete inability to understand nuance, and an irrational fear of losing their dominance over a deeply flawed and somewhat scary cultural narrative. Im talking, of course, about Vampire Weekend haters. Last year, I had fun cutting and pasting the identical criticisms of Avatar with those of Titanic in 1997. This year, I did the same with Vampire Weekend and the criticisms of the Beastie Boys circa 1986.