The opening title track is excellent -- classic Arcade Fire fare, complete with great harmonies and horns. It's the first indication that this is definitely a headphones album -- the lush production (particularly the bass thump) really comes through on the headphones as opposed to the car.
A great example is "We Exist," which sounded like a so-so track in the car, but is a tour de force in the headphones, where bass separation takes over and turns it into a measured romp.
The other star of the set is "Normal Person, which is a look back to their indie days. It has both the charm and awkward sloppiness of a newly formed band (in the best possible way), but is arranged with the wisdom of years in the professional recording arena. The off-kilter yet somehow perfect guitar riff is simple yet addictive. The lyrics reflect a band at a crossroads: "Look at those normals go," indeed. It's both raw and refined at the same time, and sums up the balance of the album perfectly.
The Arcade Fire - "Normal Person" Live on Jools Holland. "Creep" intro included at no additional charge.
One other track of note: "You Already Know" just may be a tribute to The Fall. Here are some clues: 1) musically it sounds like a classic Fall song; 2) they imitate lead singer Mark E. Smith's vocal delivery in the intro; and 3) they name-drop The Fall in the lyrics. Eat your heart out, Encyclopedia Brown.
Overall, the moments of brilliance outweigh the moments of average-ness. If that is a word. (Editor's note: it is not. It is not.)
CD Placement rating: Portable CD Case.