NewsFeed’s first experience with “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” one of the songs from hit Canadian band Arcade Fire new album The Suburbs, came when our friend put it on at a party and snidely remarked, “They sound like Blondie on this one!” Well, do they? It’s time for an investigation!
Blondie, “Heart of Glass”
Pitchfork dropped the “Heart of Glass” comparison on us, and now that’s all anyone wants to talk about. We can see some similarities, don’t get us wrong — but it seems like this confusion is based mostly on the fact that both songs have female vocalists. (And they’re sort of the same tempo…?) “Heart of Glass” doesn’t even have a synth part!
MGMT, “Time to Pretend”
One song’s about how hard it is to live in the suburbs, the other’s about how hard it is to be a famous rock star. Duality alert! “Time to Pretend” does have synths, but they’re way more riff-y and earworm-y than Arcade Fire’s. There is one similarity, though, if you listen closely: the drum parts are essentially the same.
Cyndi Lauper, “All Through the Night”
Someone on YouTube suggested this as a soundalike, and at first we were like “Pfff! Whatever!” However, now we totally hear it. It’s only at the chorus, but the chugging synths and screaming vocals sound pretty close to us. The only difference is that Cyndi’s using a classy ’80s pop chord progression, where Arcade Fire is using this indie minor-major thing we don’t have the vocabulary to understand — but that’s admittedly a big difference! On to the next one!
The Knife’s, “Heartbeats”
Along with “Heart of Glass,” this is the big reference to make. We get it. Synth parts, female vocals, same general key and mood. (Yes, that’s about as far as our music vocabulary takes us.) The Knife’s keyboards are a little more insistent, and Arcade Fire is a little more rousing, but this is the best comparison we’ve seen.
However, it’s not a perfect fit. (For one that is, check out “Tik Tok” vs. “California Gurls”) Is there a platonic ideal of “Sprawl II” soundalike that we’ve forgotten? Let us know! While we wait, we will keep arguing with hipsters on message boards over whether or not the song is ‘chillwave.’