We run away but we don't know why

This post is technically about a really great song. But before I get to that, I want to get all philosophical and shit. Ha ha ha, you’re going to have to read (um, scroll through) all this crap before your ears are pleasured. We here at Electrobitches have never liked our readers. I intend to uphold this tradition.

Sometimes I find it difficult to defend art that is popular, and I don’t think I am the only one. Admit it: if someone where to tell you that their favorite painter- unequivocally and for all time - was Norman Rockwell, I’m sure you’d have a chuckle to yourself and think, “for the love of jebus, at least you could have said Andy Warhol, then you’d at least be boring instead of 100% dumb. Who’s your runner up, Thomas Kinkade?” My tendency to dismiss artistic tastes that are not sufficiently obscure goes double for music. I have a good friend who loves Bruce Springsteen. Naturally, I delight in telling him that my favorite Bruce album is ever-so-haughty Nebraska and that “Born in the USA” is not a very good song, in spite of fact that the lyrics are “like, so anti-US, man”.

If you want to be pretentious and like the boss, listen to this album
Why? Chalk it up to the year of my birth. While I hardly fancy myself an authority on the subject (or any subject for that matter), I believe my generation is obsessed with the unpopular, the fringe, and the unique. For us, Justin Bieber is nothing but an act so exceedingly bland and focus tested that 12 year girls cannot help liking him, but [insert the band that - based on your own idiosyncrasies - you deem to be artistically impressive here] is where its at.

Of course we mock those who wear their perceived cultural superiority/artistic uniqueness on their sleeve, even though we all act in a similar fashion from time to time. Why? Well, because it is popular at act superior because you’ve seen every single David Lynch movie and listened to every deadmau5 mix. People who do this are called hipsters. And we hate hipsters. But we are hipsters.

Look at these fucking hipsters
Which brings me to the Arcade Fire. Back in the day (2004), they were the crown jewel of my hipster crown. I remember parties where crowds of well-sexed, perfectly dressed faux-bohemians would stomp their feet to “Wake Up” while singing at the top their lungs. The whole lot of us believed we were the coolest of the cool because we found a sound that was special; it felt unique to our time and place.

Fast forward six years, and the same band has the number one selling album in the U.S. It is almost hard to believe - a good band with a great sound, loved by critics and hipsters alike - is popular? Like, popular for real reals? That’s impossible! Twi-fucking-light is popular, not the Arcade Fire! I imagine kids coming of age in the 90s felt the same way about Radiohead.

I find myself asking, “What happened to my little band from Montreal?” The real kicker is I don’t want an answer because that isn’t the right question. Really, what I want to know is “What happened to me? When did I start liking things that are popular? When did I become a fan of Norman Rockwell?” In one sense, Arcade Fire was always popular and I should just shut the fuck up. But another, more convenient to post type-way, I really have changed.

I grew up.

Not by a lot (which should be obvious, as I am writing for a music blog called “electrobitches”), but I’ve matured just enough not to give a shit. Real life has a way of grinding your ego into a bloody pulp, while at the same time washing away lot of old insecurities. Case in point: I know full well that by now I will never be famous (BUT I AM SO COOL! WAH!). But I am confident enough to know that I am what I love, not what loves me - and that is enough of an excuse to like anything.

Arcade Fire’s new song Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) contains elements of all the emotions I just spent 600 some odd words describing. Alternatively, the lyrics could be just vague enough to mean whatever I want them to mean. Whatever. The first line is killer: “They heard me singing and they told me to stop/Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock”. And I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all thought, in one way or another, that the world is too much sometimes and that we “need the darkness, someone please cut the lights.” It is a great song, if you listen to it your ears will be very happy. Of course, your eyes/brain must be pissed at you for reading this post. Oh well! I hope you enjoy Sprawl II anyway.


  1. Thank you to Rachelle Rogers for getting rid of this song on her oh Canada post so I could write about it now.

  2. Thank you to Daniel J Hopkins for getting deep and bringing me back to sophomore year.

  3. This song and album really made me proud of the Arcade Fire. They are special. They will be remembered.

    They are probably the only "hipster" band that will survive the times of this era - by that I mean, in twenty years when I'm too fat to see my own penis and my children are drug addicts and my wife leaves me for my brother and I'm living in a U-Haul rental center eating Vienna Sausages with lye - I will still want to pop on the Arcade Fire and give it a spin.

    The Arcade Fire is a perfect band for people our age (20s) because we can finally relate to them (just like Bruce was/is for people - ha ha Dan). In Funeral, they seemed hopeful, even naive. Hey! We were too! The fucking war in Iraq was just getting started and we thought if we just had enough people, sang loud enough, tried hard enough, the world would get better because that is how things SHOULD be.

    Fast forward to Neon Bible - senior year of college is approaching, Bush still sucks, and Arcade Fire releases one of the most cynical and angry, albeit beautiful records ever recorded. It showed how things really ARE. I felt like shit when college ended, because the naivte and nostalgia was gone. Apparently, so did they. Or maybe I should have gotten laid more, who knows.

    On the Suburbs, I connect to it more than ever, because as a working stiff, I can only remember times when I was younger, as Dan describes above so eloquently. It's not the type of recollection like Norman Rockwell paintings where everything was sublimely perfect and Mom and Dad didn't hit each other. It's an observational memory of our adolescent lives - things aren't really the way I thought they'd be but looking back, I'm glad I know now instead of back then. Then the world starts to make a little more sense.

    In a way, 2010 Arcade Fire band members are the prequel to 2004 Arcade Fire - if they were to go back in time and had the chance to tell 2004 Arcade Fire that their futures probably won't be so perfect and they shouldn't set such high expectations out of people and the world isn't exactly full of absolution -they wouldn't. I would hope they would remain silent and let them enjoy the naive and hopeful ride that every fucking kid on the planet has the right to live.

    Sorry for ruining your article Dan.

    P.S. Listen to Bruce's "Devils and Dust" album - it is Nebraska's twin - but maybe more depressing. You will love it.

  4. On a side note:

    "We here at Electrobitches have never liked our readers."


  5. Send your hater mail here.