Montreal’s Arcade Fire brings a theatricality, an intensity, an insanity, and a penchant for amazing hooks to their debut full-length. You’ve never heard such energy, beauty, and emotion from such a young band. Fans of Neutral Milk Hotel, Broken Social Scene, and Roxy Music’s first two albums will have a new favorite band.
There’s something so undeniably revealing and relevant about Funeral, the appropriately titled debut from Montreal’s The Arcade Fire. I first began reading about the band some time in late 2004 and soon after began scouring the internet for live recording’s of this much-hyped, “best of 2004” band. Surrounded by all the hype, and mountains of critical acclaim, The Arcade Fire has delivered a genre-defying monolith of an album. After months of listening to live Arcade Fire sets, I finally got my hands on a copy, and, hoping the studio versions of the songs would live up to the intimacy, and energy of their live counterparts, I was floored.
The months leading up to, and during the recording of what would become Funeral, were marked by tragedy, with three of the band’s family members passing away. The liner notes from the album even fold out and red like a funeral program. There are direct references to the loss of loved ones scattered here and there, but the themes, for the most part, are much more subtle. Themes revisited throughout the album, though, are of young love, childhood and familial bonds. The passing of loved ones often leaves us contemplating our own lives and reaching out to those around us, while also reaching for our childhood when death was a part of life that seemed eons away. The Arcade Fire seem to represent the struggles of post-adolescence, and the desire for the innocence of childhood in a sincere, urgent manner that make most other band’s attempts look melodramatic and immature. An album that comes to mind that rivals Funeral’s urgency, honesty and brutality is Weezer’s Pinkerton. Though, not quite as frank, and direct as Rivers Cuomo’s musings, The Arcade Fire hit the mark much in the same fashion as Weezer’s sophomore effort.
There are pinches of other bands sprinkled throughout Funeral; namely, The Talking Heads, Joy Division, and orchestrations that smack of A Silver Mt. Zionesque post-rock, but The Arcade Fire have awkwardly fashioned a sound that has defied any labels that one could unjustly place on this band. From the theatrical, and uplifting to the tragically ironic and heart-wrenching, Funeral leaves the listener begging for more. If you want an album that will leave you disoriented, contemplating your own existence, and will quench an undying thirst for something beautifully original, then look no further.
Review by Emma Loggins