Arcade Fire’s third album The Suburbs is based on a concept of re-capturing a certain time/memory and coming to terms with where you are at now. Easily one of the best albums of 2010, the packaging is also up to par. Grainy photos of various suburban locations, vivid colors. It plays out like someone looking through an old photograph album. The textures and colors really add a maudlin feel, and it really evokes reflectiveness, and sometimes a sense of hopelessness. From a physical stand point, they went all out with this package. It comes in a mini LP/digipack style, the CD on the right, the lyric book on the left gatefold. The package itself was pressed on glossy cardboard, but it actually makes the colors really pop out at you. If you get the original art, the red really catches your eye. The lyric book is roughly around 26 pages. All lyrics included (hand written, which again really plays into the themes of the album) – and accompanied by various photographs taken in suburbia. Thematically, the packaging is well executed. Not only does the images and style match up with the albums music, but you get great packaging to accompany the music. The vinyl version differs as it does NOT include all the pictures in the lyric book. It’s really nice to have that glossy art in the big format, but if you are a fan of lyric books, and want that extra art – this is not included (instead the lyrics are written on the front and back of the vinyl sleeves w/no pictures).
Verdict: Easily a must buy. One of the fullest packages to come out in recent years. This is one you will want to skip buying digitally – and instead buy physically. The band has made an album that is about the full album format, and the packaging reflects that. As a final note: To some it might be annoying that The Suburbs came out with eight different album covers. This review only included two, but I can say that whatever art you go with, it’s very well done. The inside gatefold for the CD version IS different for every version you get. And while some might think this is a bit much, I like to think that no one is forced to buy more than one. And this at least gives you options, if you were not a fan of the original art. That said, I think it’s better to have this sort of release, then a release that puts on bonus tracks on various versions (where you really are missing out on something). And regardless which one you choose, the packaging is great. Besides the front art and the gatfold, all the releases are 100% the same (no changes in the lyric book).