JON MYERS FROM Hitchin band Martell talks about how petty music fans, not least himself, can be:
There are many perfectly sensible reasons to dislike a band. Take Kings of Leon for example. I saw them play at Brixton Academy in 2004 and was so disappointed by their flaccid cock of a performance that I gave up with them. The fact that they’ve started making vapid U2isms ever since only vindicates my decision. However, one of my greatest musical vices is to completely disregard a band for the most petty of reasons.
Which is why I was pretty proud of myself for buying the new Arcade Fire album this week. This is a band that I have avoided for a number of years, at least 2 festivals and the best part of three albums for virtually no reason at all. Well, there are reasons, so bear with me while I try, and fail, to justify them:
On 7th June 2004 I had a GCSE exam, I think it was RE but I’m not entirely sure. On my way to school I went to buy an album with £10 in my pocket. The problem was that two albums came out that day. I chose, and I’m glad I did, the seismically brilliant and life altering The Lost Riots by Hope of The States, and to this day I still do not own Hot Fuzz by The Killers.
I was never forced into the same choice with Arcade Fire, but when Funeral came out I’d already fallen hard for Silent Alarm and was on the verge of discovering Willy Mason and then Arctic Monkeys. Despite all of the badgering from the music press, not to mention David Bowie, I ignored them.
There really shouldn’t be any sort of timing excuse regarding Funeral. In late 2006 and early 2007, although I had made some questionable musical choices that I am far too proud to admit, nothing had really grabbed my attention. Furthermore, I genuinely loved Intervention the first time I heard it, and I still love it. So why didn’t I buy the album?
I will hang my head and admit that the following thought is the sole reason: “If I buy Funeral and like it, I’ll want to see them live, and then I’ll have to buy Neon Bible and get into that too, I can’t be bothered.” This is as poor an excuse as a music fan can ever muster. I confess, I have sinned, please forgive me.
On Suburban War Win Butler sings: “Now the music divides us into tribes, you choose your side I’ll choose my side.” On my list of petty reasons for disliking music I want to make it clear that this isn’t petty. Music is important, people feel strongly about it, and if this wasn’t true I wouldn’t be writing a blog about it, I wouldn’t have had many strong disagreements with friends about it, I wouldn’t have fallen out with people about it. The petty thing is that once I’ve chosen my side, it is very rare that I will admit I’m wrong.
There are bands that I still don’t listen to because of this: There are a number of White Stripes songs that I really like and I own a couple of their albums, but I never listen to them because of a few arguments I had about 5 years ago. I have disagreed with a number of people about Arcade Fire in the past, and so I was actively avoiding buying The Suburbs out of sheer pride, no matter how much I liked the 5 or 6 songs I heard.
I’d like to think, then, that I went a little way to absolving myself of my aforementioned sins when I bought The Suburbs this weekend, and without any sense of guilt I’d like to say it’s a brilliant album, quite probably the best I’ve heard this year. It is complex, sincere, but never less than accessible and while it explores a number of different styles and influences it remains focussed. Most importantly, it feels like it was written as a whole album, as opposed to a collection of songs.
So I am sorry to those of you I ignored, and I’m even sorrier to those of you I argued with. I have ordered Funeral and Neon Bible. I can’t wait to see them live. I am learning to love Arcade Fire, and humble Pie doesn’t taste as bad as I though it would.
words by Jon Myers