After two ridiculous victories for the old guard (Herbie Hancock; Robert Plant & Alison Krauss), the often hidebound Grammy voting bloc gave in to youth, giving Taylor Swift the 2010 Album of the Year award.
Seemingly giddy with freedom, they then lifted up Arcade Fire in 2011, surprising those who thought their nomination was, at best, a nod to relevancy. "The Suburbs" may not have been that year's absolute best, but it was a Big Important Album, and it really was quite good.
For their widely anticipated fourth album, the Canadian cohort push things even further with a sprawling double LP that readily invites claims of grandiosity, and weathers them well.
The title track opens the proceedings with exactly what Arcade Fire always lacked -- an urge to move your hips -- aided by production from James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) and vocals from early band champion David Bowie. The latter's legacy of edgy '70s glam and high showmanship are all over the exciting first half of the record, before it transitions to a more spacious (and serious) second side.
The modern romantic mythology of "Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)" and "It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)" would seem unwieldy in another context, but here, as a prelude to the stunning uplift of "Afterlife" and the long ambient comedown of "Supersymmetry," it all feels correct.
In the end, that golden statue might have been slightly premature.