5. Arcade Fire-The Suburbs
Despite being overblown and senseless thematic, the Arcade Fire’s third album is still better than most everything. If someone more discerning had lobbed off Empty Room and Month of May and Wasted Hours and Deep Blue and Sprawl I and The Suburbs (Continued), the album could have been like #2 on this list. Luckily, the standout tracks more than makeup for the sonic banalities. Ready to Start captures the energy that Month of May strives for without grating. Modern Man builds where Wasted Hours and Deep Blue stagnate. The outro of Suburban War is so monumental musically and rending lyrically that they could have fastened another ten tracks of whining about learning to drive and the wilderness downtown and shopping plazas and kids and kids and kids. They could have.
4. Vampire Weekend-Contra
Similar in trajectory to The Strokes move from Is This It to the superior and underrated Room on Fire, Vampire Weekend synthesized the nuclear winter of hype that surrounded their self-titled debut into a refinement and variation of their sound. What will keep this band from imploding is that their image is a reflection of their identity, as opposed to the inverse. The Strokes were too in love with being rock stars to survive being rock stars (See: First Impressions of Earth). That band would never have the snat to put Automatic Stop in a Honda commercial. Vampire Weekend have the snat. They’d still be wearing Oxford shirts and Sperrys if they worked at Sonic and recorded demos in Ezra Koening’s step-mom’s garage. Because they are terribly unapologetic, and all the better for it. The album also features the song “Cousins,” which if played at a reasonable BPM, is eleven hours long.