Sunday, May 3, 2009

FUNERAL-Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire
Label-Merge Records
Status-Out as of 2004, 1st Studio Album
Rating-5 Feathers

Forming in Montreal, husband and wife team Win Butler and Régine Chassagne started out as a meek duo in 2003 called Arcade Fire. Now comprised of several multi-instrumentalists, Arcade Fire draws upon everything from ethnic roots and indie to form their debut album, ‘Funeral’. Launching off the album, ‘Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)’ is a tad depressing, but the piano keeps it from becoming the mood of a man going off to war. He sounds like he’s crying out in desperation, which is very effective. ‘Neighborhood #2 (Laika)’ is a little creepy and the combination of the accordion and high-pitched violins make it seem like they’ve lost their minds eerily. You can see a slight connection to the other Neighborhood in that they effectively got their message across and it sounds like a clear group effort. It’s a very awkwardly infectious song. ‘Une Année Sans Lumière’ (translating to a year without light) is such a cutesy song. It’s so light, and the French part makes it even cuter! The build to the end is very subtle, and it was just right; not overbearing. ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ is my favorite song on the album. Next to ‘Arpan’ from the Concert for George, this is possibly the best arrangement of such diverse instruments I’ve ever heard. The xylophone is beyond catchy, and the part where they go “Is it a dream? Is it a lie?” truly sends shivers down your spine. ‘Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)’ is the lightest and most easy going of the Neighborhoods. It’s a little anticlimactic, but still very pleasant. The use of teakettles gives it a nice home-y effect, as in I can easily imagine sitting in a cottage listening to this song. ‘Crown of Love’ starts out a little on the boring side, but the use of strings gives me an image of what I’d imagine Italy to feel like. The end of the song is by far the best. You can hear the strings slowly building up and then all of a sudden they make the most awkward transition I’ve ever heard in any song, but that transition is to a very upbeat, very infectious section of joy. I can’t stop listening to that segue. ‘Wake Up’ is not your typical sad song. It’s just so freaken beautiful. They say “Someone told me not to cry”, but I did anyway. It’s so trodden with weeping strings, and group vocals that give it a sense of ‘we’re going through this, but as long as we’re together, we can pull through’. It’s so empowering that when they all shout ‘I guess we’ll just have to adjust!’, it unconditionally affects you. ‘Haiti’ is also a little said, but it has a bright tone and a more reflective quality about it. Régine sings so lovely and perfectly about her home Haiti. It affects you, but not quite the same way that ‘Wake Up’ does. ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ too builds up so beautifully. It’s has a similar empowerment, even though the message that the song is giving is that even sleeping is a lie. They all pour their souls into this song, and boy does it translate! The combination of a perfect string arrangement accompanied by shear heart and soul leaves you completely awestruck. ‘In The Backseat’ a really great ending to such an awe-inspiring album. You can really tell Owen Pallett did the strings for this because only in this song do they not sound eerie or creepy. Régine’s voice is haunting, and if it doesn’t strike a chord with you, you are heartless. As a whole, this song sums up perfectly all that the album was. I decided to review this album to see what all the fuss was about, and I had no idea that it hit me like a brick. It’s one of the most empowering albums I’ve heard in a while, and every song is clearly completely unique. It’s so unique that I cannot think of any clear outside influences. From the first chord, to the last note, they put the fun back in funeral.
"I felt like I discovered Montreal... obviously I didn't, but I came and went, holy shit, I never even looked at this place on the fucking map, and there's this great weird city, and it's full of arts and culture, and I was so shocked. A year in Boston, nothing. I come to Montreal, and I had a performing band straight away. It's hard not to think of it as fate that I found myself there."-Win Butler

Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)

Recommendations: Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), Wake Up, Haiti, Rebellion (Lies)
Arcade Fire's Official Website
Note: Yes, I know, this one of the best reviewed, most highly praised albums of the decade, but I wanted to see for myself why everyone, even pitchfork, liked it so much, and I wanted to open the door up for discussion about it. I hope you enjoy my review as much as I enjoyed writing it and my next review will probably be Midnight Boom as I promised long ago.


Ian France said...

So yeah, I can't believe you gave them five stars. It's not that Arcade Fire don't deserve it, they're a totally awesome creative band that are really going places, but you're usually such a hard critic! XD Great review, love the intro especially.

Double Hawk said...

Arnie: Yeah, I was surprised on how much I liked it, I may have to buy Neon Bible now! I really try my hardest to give albums the rating they thoroughly deserve, and only if I really like every song will it get a 5 and if I like them all, except one or two is a little iffy, that's when they get a 4.5. Thanks!