Everything Arcade Fire does is big: the ballads, the rockers, the kitchen-sink epics. Even their more introspective songs are grand in scope. This has been their routine from the start, but on their terrific third album, The Suburbs, they make even the most restrained moments sound as if the fate of the world depends on them. There are plenty of large-scale songs here: "Half Light" and "Sprawl" (of course there has to be a song called "Sprawl" on The Suburbs) are divided into sections and the two-part title tune bookends the album. Frontman Win Butler and his large cast of supporting players work their way toward a sort of societal separation here, carrying Funeral's requiems and Neon Bible's hymns into a region where subdivisions split communities as well as souls. But The Suburbs' emotional heft is typically vast. Songs like "Ready to Start," "City With No Children," and "Half Light II (No Celebration)" are arena-sized anthems about making connections under adverse circumstances. And, as always, the payoff is big and it's beautiful. — Michael Gallucci
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