The Arcade Fire - Funeral (Cover Artwork)

The Arcade Fire

Funeral (2004)



The best band that no one's heard of that everybody's listening to; that's the only way I can describe the Arcade Fire, I guess. Made up of seven members, plus a bunch of unofficial other members, the band hails from Montreal, Canada, and has been getting quite a lot of buzz lately, and for good reason I suppose. Quite simply, Funeral is one of the most ambitious, beautiful, and captivating records I've ever heard.

The (married) singer's boy/girl vocals, which are reminiscent of the Anniversary at times, fit perfectly with the unique instrumentation, which never fails to hook the listener, yet without being cliché and bland. The ridiculously heartfelt lyrics match each song's tone at all times, making the music that much more meaningful. It's simply beautiful music.

Apparently inspired by four seperate deaths in the band members' families, Funeral contains a set of four songs that mold into one another, each called 'Neighborhood.' The first track itself, "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)," is a masterpiece. From the first couple notes, the listener may start to see an actual neighborhood in his/her head. It's strange, and may be due in part to movie themes that deal with suburbia, but it definitely works. It flows into an indie rock / pop number with an uplifting tone and eager vocals. The lyrics compliment the song perfectly, adding to the effect. "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" is another amazing song, which introduces an accordian, and at times sounds like the B-52s playing aboard a pirate ship. Can't go wrong there.

"Wake Up" is my personal favorite track on the album. With a showering of vocals and powerful instrumentation, it's almost epic, the way the whole song plays out. It's like the happy ending to a breakup, the feeling of finding the meaning of life, after thinking it was lost. The two songs sung solely by the female vocalist, "Haiti" (the country she apparently fled before joining the band), and the album's closer, "In The Backseat," are exceptionally strong, and have the tendency to give chills at times. The latter is especially amazing, a powerful, emotional, sweeping rise to the top, without being overdone. Her voice is almost the exact opposite of what you would hear on a pop record, which isn't to say she can't sing, because it's quite the opposite in fact. She has a great voice, it's just not sugary, and I for one am glad; it fits perfectly.

Simply put, every song on Funeral is a worthy listen, and I've always felt that the best albums require you to listen in order, from start to finish. This is no exception. I've been trying to think of other artists to compare the Arcade Fire to, and while it brings to mind the previously mentioned Anniversary, the fact is, I've never heard an album like this. That's not to say that it's revolutionary in its originality, but I can say that no one does it as well. Each song is its own journey, a trip through the subconscious. This album will get into your head whether you like it or not.