Bad hair cuts or more hair, awful taste in music or all the right songs, tonnes of opinions or an ounce of wisdom, the one that got away or the one you should've got away from - when the mind rewinds to growing up you either want to hug or clatter the earlier version of yourself. With 'The Suburbs', a concept album about youth and age, the listener arrives at a peephole to the life they once had. Look through it and everything is widescreen technicolor or grainy portable telly again.
Whether you lived like Arcade Fire mainman Win Butler in Houston, along the route of the 46A or in the middle of nowhere, dreams of escape from boredom, alienation and not being old enough always have the same textures, and the stories here let you feel them again. As Butler sings, "Kids in buses long to be free", and no matter where you are now 'The Suburbs' reminds you that a part of you is always stuck against that fogged-up window.
Here you'll find Arcade Fire at their most audacious and ambitious, pinballing between styles and evoking all kinds of emotions and recollections through them. There are stunning moments that will make you crave the communal experience, while elsewhere time away from everyone is the only thing that will do. In some parts things will click instantly and in others patience is needed. Hang in there and accept that you're not meant to be listening in instalments but from start to finish - every time. With 16 songs, and not much in the way of singles, the favourites for some will mean less to others, and it will be fascinating to see how things change when 'The Suburbs' makes itself at home.
While some will believe that certain tracks could've stayed in the studio and that a law should now be passed banning Arcade Fire from ever writing about kids, the city, cities and the town ever again, part of the charm of 'The Suburbs' is that, like us, it's not perfect - these little 'flaws', or others found, add to its character. Even after two weeks, this odyssey through wonder years, things lost and gained feels like it could be one of those hand-me-down records for generations to come. As it ages so will we and the happy, sad and bittersweet which run right through the music and lyrics will resonate even more.
Thanks for the memories - past, present and future.