Funeral – Arcade Fire

Funeral

Arcade Fire

2004

Merge / Rough Trade

“Definitive” has an ironically diverse meaning when referring to art forms, especially music.  An album can define a time period, an artist’s style, or it can mean something more personal to each of us.  However, Funeral by Arcade Fire can easily be applied to all of these meanings as the “definitive” record by the band.  First, it is critically acclaimed as one of the best albums from the first decade of the current millennium.  I would absolutely agree on that point.  Secondly, many claim that this is the definitive Arcade Fire album, much like Good News for People Who Love Bad News by Modest Mouse.  This is where I disagree.  I feel that Neon Bible and The Suburbs are more indicative of Arcade Fire’s style.  Finally, the whole personal bit is summed up neatly by saying that Funeral was one of my gateway albums into the band and even the world of indie music.

In short, the album completely deserves the accolades bestowed upon it (save for one song in my opinion, but we’ll get to that waffling on my part later).  The first half of the album is a roller coaster  of sound containing the “Neighborhood” saga, split in half by “Une Année Sans Lumière.”  We’re treated to a back-and-forth of slow and fast, calm and dramatic, and mellow and tense.  The juxtaposition of English and French on “Une,”  and later “Haiti,” is woven together beautifully by Régine Chassagne and Win Butler.  Their vocal harmonies flow together in a similarly fluid manner.

The rest of the album doesn’t fail to deliver either.  There isn’t as much change between the styles of the songs, but just enough to let you know it’s a different track.  Arcade Fire continue their perfect blend of indie rock and baroque pop through to the end.  However, there is something that bugs me about “In the Backseat,” the album’s closing track.  For me, everything is simultaneously right and wrong at the same time.  It has the slow, mellow tone I prefer on closing tracks, Régine’s vocals are definitely at her best, and yet, something just irks me.  Perhaps it’s the length, or perhaps it’s the rapid fall off after the crescendo bursts.  Despite that, I honestly cannot fault the album as a whole.

It’s a stretch, but you could include “megaphone” as an instrument. The guy holding a flag though? He’s not even fucking trying.

The main theme found in this album is juxtaposition and the resolution of conflict that it sometimes causes.  I’ve already gone over the internal ones from the album, so I’ll finish with the external conflict.  Arcade Fire is a band I love, and a band I hate.  I don’t know if it’s just the typical fall off after a huge success, or it’s something else, but I just cannot get into the rest of their music.  Neon Bible and The Suburbs just don’t do it for me.  If we follow the chronology of their releases, however, they’re due for a new release in 2013, and I hope it returns back to the style of Funeral.  So, returning to my opening point of being “definitive,” I have to say that Funeral is not that album of Arcade Fire to me.  Their later efforts define them to me as a band who had a chance to be something incredible, but instead fell into mediocrity.  Funeral is instead an exception. It’s one of the brightest shining stars in the sky of indie rock albums, but an exception nonetheless.

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3 Responses to “Funeral – Arcade Fire”

  1. The most unique thing about Arcade Fire is that they’re music is boring and bloated even with a thousand members in the band. Not many other bands can achieve that.

  2. Nicholas Says:

    I’ve said it before. The Slipknot of Indie rock. 100 band members that do nothing except hit bullshit with a drum stick.

  3. You would think they would downsize a little. We’re in a recession, after all.

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