The Arcade Fire’s ‘The Suburbs’ sells 156,000 in its first week, according to Spoon (?)

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The weekly numbers from Nielsen SoundScan aren’t given the official unveiling until Wednesday morning, but perhaps Chapel Hill, N.C.'s Merge Records can be forgiven for not being totally hip to music industry embargoes. After all, it’s not often the indie label founded by Superchunk‘s Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan has the No. 1 album in the U.S. Heck, never mind often -- the label has never topped the U.S. pop charts before.

But despite a valiant effort from Eminem, the adventurous orchestral pop act Arcade Fire will find itself at No. 1 first thing Wednesday morning -- errrr, probably, and most assuredly definitely, but Nielsen SoundScan isn’t talking.

Yet if Merge and its close-knit family of bands is to be believed, the Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” sold 156,000 copies in the U.S., according to Spoon‘s official Twitter page. Yes, Spoon, the Austin, Texas-bred minimalist art-rockers, are the ones who broke the news of Arcade Fire’s first-week sales.

The 156,000 number -- should it hold -- rockets passed the first-week sales of the band’s “Neon Bible,” which bowed with 92,000 copies sold back in March of 2007. “Neon Bible” missed the No. 1 spot, albeit narrowly. The top-selling album that week was Notorious B.I.G.'s “Greatest Hits,” which opened with 99,000 copies sold.

“The Suburbs” has been one of the year’s most hotly anticipated indie releases, and tracks began hitting the Web back in May. The album received three-and-a-half (out of four) stars from the Times, and sales were no doubt helped by an extremely low digital price from The retailer sold a full download of the album for $3.99.

Such fire sales are not new for Amazon. U2‘s “No Line on the Horizon,” for instance, was discounted to $3.99 during its first week of release, and Grizzly Bear‘s “Veckatimest” posted high digital sales numbers after being given the nice price of $3.99 in its first week, with 13,000 of its debut-week sales of 33,000 coming from the digital marketplace. Yet it was rare to see the retailer carry the low price for the entire first week of release, as Amazon’s $3.99 promos more typically last for 24 hours. The album is now selling for $7.99.


Also of note, the Arcade Fire were selling the download for $7.99. The download edition from the band came complete with “synchronized artwork.” The visuals are synced to the songs, creating a sort of moving picture book for computers and portable devices.

-- Todd Martens

Spoon’s official Twitter page.

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