Arcade Fire

19th October 2005
Cover reviewer: Bob
rating: 5 out of 5
published by:
  1. Neighborhood 1 (Tunnels)
  2. Neighborhood 2 (Laika)
  3. Une annee sans lumiere
  4. Neighborhood 3 (Power Cut)
  5. Neighborhood 4 (Kettles)
  6. Crown Of Love
  7. Wake Up
  8. Haiti
  9. Rebellion (Lies)
  10. In The Backseat

Arcade Fire formed in 2003 and settled in Quebec where the recorded a self titled EP. During the recording of Funeral, their debut album, the band experienced the death of three close family members. They’ve poured their experiences and emotions into the songs on this album. It’s a dark and heady brew. But dark like being under a canopy of thick foliage shot threw with rays of sun.

‘Wake Up’ starts off with a bass line as dirty as anything the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have committed to record before relief is provided by an angelic vocal refrain and then four minutes in it morphs into an almost Beach Boys like mood near the end. ‘Haiti’ mixes dark lyrics with the most beautiful acoustic guitars and a very Japanese sounding xylophone refrain. ‘Crown of Love’ waltzes along and then changes tempo to rock out. ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ is a fantastically catchy up tempo number with a great chorus and features layers of violin and piano. Each listen adds to the effect. Musically it’s a masterpiece. The sheer variety of instruments and the experimental way the songs are put together makes for a very satisfying listen. There isn’t an ounce of fat or self indulgence here. The percussion and bass are worthy of special mention.

The lyrics though are the meat of the dish. Obviously calling the album ‘Funeral’ is something of a clue to the dark subjects contained within (as is the stroke of genius of making the lyric sheet look like an order of service). ‘Crown of Love’ speaks of love “just like a cancer, and you wont give me a straight answer”. ‘Wake up’ tells us “Someone told me not to cry, But now that I’m older, my heart’s colder’. And yet despite the sadness and dark images the album isn’t depressing. Like a piece of marble it’s rippled with optimism despite the inevitability of death.

Arcade Fire have produced what could well be the album of the year. Expect it to feature heavily in all the end of year lists. It’s an essential album.

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