Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Arcade Fire - Funeral

Grade: 97.5%
Official Score: 99.1%

What The Others Think

Pitchfork Score: 9.7

Tiny Mix Tapes Score: 5 (out of 5)
Coke Machine Glow Score: 90%/82%

It started simply enough with a trickling of piano, a rhythmic bass line, and rising vocals. I had my head nodding, yeah, but little did I know that about four minutes later I would be jumping for joy, singing woo-ooh with the choir and rejoicing the arrival of the Arcade Fire. The album may be called Funeral, but if this is their funeral then I would love to see them party. Never have I had so much fun singing (screaming) lyrics like "We're just a million little gods causin' rain storms/turning every good thing to rust", or "I went out into the night/I went out to pick a fight with anyone".

Listening to this album is like going to church. Win Butler is the preacher, his wife, Regine Chassagne, leads the choir, and the rest of us are the congregation. Only if you are like me, church was never this much fun, and never had this good of a band. Instead of "amen's" repeated in monotone in every refrain, they are replaced by a much more enthusiastic "we found the light!", the handclaps more sincere, and the congregation less like sheep and more like dogs, by which I mean we are led because we want to sing and dance along with them, not because we are told to.

Chances are, you have already read plenty about this band and this album even if you've never listened to it before, so I won't bore you by going too much further. You already know I love it, I gave the album a near perfect score. Instead I just want to mention a few things about the album, then you can go about your day.

1). The end of "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" reminds me a little of Interpol, the Interpol of Turn on the Bright Lights that is, and is the reason why I bought this album. Of course, they really sound nothing alike. They're similar enough in that they both take cues from the Cure, but that's about it.

2). When Regine's backup vocals take charge in the mix, as they do on "Neighborhood #2 (Laika) (and several others), you take notice. You have to. And the song(s) usually get better from there.

3). On the other hand, when Win screams his guts out in "Wake Up" you also have to take notice. It's the most powerful part on the album. Its like being hit in the face, but experiencing that moment of clarity immediately afterward (yes, that is a I Heart Huckabee's reference, and it sure beats the machete one I had originally planned).

4). "Haiti" is probably the most underrated song on the album. Not because its sung by Regine, or because its mostly in French, but because it is sandwiched between "Wake Up" and "Rebellion (Lies)", both of which are beasts that really involve the listener. "Haiti" is a little more subtle but not because it sacrifices quality. On any other album it would be a highlight, that's how good this album is.

5). Tension rules this album. Whether it is lyrically ("my love keeps growing/still the same/just like a cancer/and you won't give/me a straight answer") or musically (the strings "Neighborhood #4 (Power Out)", the organ during Win's outburst in "Wake Up"), each song has its fair share. Fortunately, there are plenty of releases. It is like having 10 orgasms in a little over 45 minutes.

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