With their universally adored 2004 debut album Funeral and their successful follow-up Neon Bible in 2007, Arcade Fire was on a hot streak when they began working on their highly-anticipated third record. Neon Bible became the band’s commercial high watermark, debuting at #2 in the US during the peak of the mainstream indie rock boom in 2007.
The Suburbs would outperform their previous work by a mile, debuting at #1 in Canada, the US, and the UK. Arcade Fire remains the only Canadian group other than Nickelback to debut an album at #1 on the UK charts.
The concept behind The Suburbs was inspired by Win Butler’s experiences growing up in The Woodlands, Texas, which is a suburb of Houston. Butler has described the album as “neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs – it’s a letter from the suburbs.”
The band recorded the album in Butler and Regine Chassagne’s home in Montreal, taking inspiration for its sound from a mix of Depeche Mode and Neil Young. Butler wanted The Suburbs to sound like “the bands that I heard when I was very young, and wondered what those crazy noises were.”
The formula worked, and on its release, The Suburbs reached #1 on the Canadian, US, UK and Ireland charts. The album earned widespread critical praise, and Mike Diver of BBC music called it Arcade Fire’s OK Computer.
Before long, the album was nominated for a slew of music awards. The Suburbs would win Polaris Music Prize, Best International Album at the BRIT Awards, and Album of the Year at both the Juno and Grammy Awards, in addition to getting featured highly on year-end lists worldwide. It would go on to sell over 1 million copies around the globe.