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We have a winner! Arcade Fire's <i>The Suburbs</i> wins the 2011 Polaris Music Prize

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For Arcade Fire, overreaching has always seemed less a critical flaw than a mission statement. From the audacious anthems of Funeral to the shimmering, simmering Neon Bible, everything seemed to be spiralling skyward: the band’s lofty ambition, its ever-earnest emotionalism and its grandiose sonic swoon. And then The Suburbs came out, and Arcade Fire proved that a bit of restraint couldn’t dull their visceral wallop. Here, Win Butler’s quivering warble turns resolute, while the almighty catharses of Funeral are sacrificed for a roiling slow burn that, make no mistake, maintains the old fire.

Meanwhile, Butler explores familiar lyrical themes — community, alienation, childhood — through the prism of suburbia, with a voice that's as empathetic as emphatic. So, an album that delves into the uneasy transition into adulthood actually proves the elegance of Arcade Fire's own maturation. At last, it seems there’s nothing that lies outside this band’s considerable grasp.

Nick Patch, Canadian Press

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