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Funeral-Arcade Fire

Discussions about the new generations of bands influenced by '80s New Wave and Postpunk

Funeral-Arcade Fire

Postby lbworshiper » Tue May 24, 2005 12:12 pm

.......i like the peace....... the backseat..
.........i don't have to drive.........
....i don't have to speak....
...........i can watch the country side...........
.......and i can fall asleep...... family tree's.....
........losing all its leaves........

.....from "In The Backseat".....

If you think about it, death is less morbid than the concept of living forever. If a "complete" life is lived 70-80 years, well, I think most of us would consider that quite a bit of time for one soul to endure the constant tests of this life. That's why I always tell people that when I go - be it tomorrow or in 90 years - make my funeral a party. Cry for yourselves but celebrate for me. When this leaf falls off of the family tree, it will sail beyond the imagination.

It seems that the Montreal indie rock/pop sextet, The Arcade Fire, "get" this concept of cycle with no end. They comment within the liner notes of "Funeral" that the title is meant to point out the irony of their new beginnings as a band which is up against a backdrop of the many deaths of loved ones that they are getting through. They could've been typical. They could've made 10 songs of pure melancholy, mourning their dearly departed. They could've thrown a sad, beat-down funeral on wax and affirmed for the rest of us that when close family and friends die, it is sad. But they didn't; they rose above by making an album that doesn't seem to rise above. It just seems to be great.

While the music of "Funeral" has next to nothing to do with losing those you cherish (save "In the Backseat"), it's amazing how profoundly alive its sound is. It may sound trite but the biggest influence here seems to be life itself. The track that can more or less prove this point is "Wake Up". The golden harmonies ride somber guitars, mixed with long-drawing strings, and drums that step heavy along with lead-singer Win Butler's lyrics that are both desperately cynical and deeply hopeful. Sure, I suppose the influences could be The Beach Boys, "Fiddler on the Roof", Beethoven, and R.E.M. but, a) that's just silly, and b) we'd have to come up with a whole new list for the next song, "Haiti". So, life it is. And then maybe the irony of "Funeral" gets deeper as you explore every breathing treasure it has saved for you.

Off the bat, the problem with describing "Funeral" is that there is just so much going on in the album that you can not make generalizations or clean-cut references. Some albums you can describe in one paragraph (*ahem* the new Interpol *mmm*); others you can't really describe at all. "Funeral" falls into the latter.

But let's try anyway.

Most rock/pop artists are content to be reliant upon their guitars, bass, keyboard, and drums. They make a sound that's familiar and their key to success is to deviate enough from their peers to sound fresh and a bit original.

The Arcade Funeral trashes the limitations and, through their overwhelming instrumental literacy, they pick and choose the best tools for each piece of musical construction. To suggest that they have no true influences has to be accurate because it seems that every song is based on what's right as opposed to what's normal for the type of music they make.

For instance, "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" has a steady guitar melody that rumbles around like a concrete road, with artty, but non-alienating, guitar and piano roaming around, causing a bit of chaos. This is because Win Butler is dreaming of his neighborhood being buried with snow. But he'll build a tunnel. From his window to your's. Really; he said so.

So we can take "Neighborhood #1", an indie rocker/art-popper and contrast it to "Crown of Love", orchestral sap-pop at its finest. Thick orchestration, guitars that accompany more than take any of the light, and Butler's weepy vocals that are occasionally intertwined with Regine Chassagne's (his wife/other major band member) vocals, creating an all out aura of yearning. Then it breaks into intense stringage, saturating the airwaves with near excitement over the despondency. And yet, all of this still manages to make you smile. That's quite a worthwhile constant, in my book.

But there are more constants than the abstract that you can just feel. Win Butler and Regine Chassagne are a perfect match in more than one way, obviously. His voice captures the essence of each song so well and in the two songs that he doesn't fit into ("Haiti" and "In the Backseat"), Regine comes in and proves to be one of the most stellar secondary vocalists we have heard in forever. Her voice is like the wind speaking to you and caressing you at the same time. Also, conceptually and spiritually, this album is about sifting out what is going right and what is going wrong in their neighborhood and your's.

That's what "Funeral" physically sounds like but it has nothing to do with its feel. In short, it's got vibrance like a rainbow on a sun-shiny, rainy day.

The strengths and the power of each mind-loving song on "Funeral" all differ a bit yet the euphoria remains the same, listen after listen (after listen, after listen, after listen, after listen, after listen).

Wild amounts of hope and the knowledge that overcoming will always happen when you have people close by that you can rely on is radiated from "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)". It tickles my imagination to think of a neighborhood getting covered by snow and being able to climb out of your chimney and walk around. The imagery is simply sublime.

Conversely, the skepticism which brings upon a vigorously fresh energy on "Rebellion (Lies)" will have you romping around the room to the atmosphere, bursting with excitement, the tremendous synergy of guitars and strings, and of course, Win's amazing poignant yet cryptic lyrics (with Regine providing the excitement on the chants of "lies! lies!"). "People say that your dreams are the only thing that can save ya. Come on baby in our dreams, we can live our misbehavior." It's just That, my friends, is hard thing to convey. But it just makes you feel perfect. I have no imagery that can tell you that feeling for this particular song. It's just...(sigh).

Actually, with how massively awesome each song is, it's nearly impossible to put two into one paragraph and link them. That would put an author at serious risk of making arbitrary comparisons for the sake of flow.

Yet, if the albums flows, I should be able to, too. The four "Neighborhood" tracks, with "Une Annee Sans Lumiere" keep the first half of the album at home. The familiar becomes a little more interesting here, with outlandish fictional tales and also, simple but poignant observations of street lights gone dim. It's a rockin' home-base to a more powerful explosion of sounds on the second half. That's when "Crown of Love" lays on the strings thick, then "Wake Up" raises the hair on the neck of your spirit. "Haiti" takes art-pop to a new level of adventure with bouncing somethings and wavy acoustics driving this one into dreamland. "Rebellion (Lies)" throws together about everything that makes this album good into the single that will never be a single. And then "In the Backseat" is a song of intense self-realization in the light of personal loss and new beginnings to close off the album.

See, that wasn't so hard.

But, actually, it was. I still don't think I have gotten the point across that "Funeral" is completely exquisite for each solitary second, from front to back, making its listener fall in love for the first time about one hundred times per listen.

Kids, this is not as easy as it looks.

Staring at the four radio towers that blink with no cohesion whatsoever outside my window and trying to figure some sort of intertwining pattern, I am realizing that when certain albums come around that you are just completely in love with, there is no way that you can focus enough creative energy on writing a review that will live up to the music, in your eyes. Then you'll write sixty-five words trying to explain that concept. Then you'll take a big gasp.

The Arcade Fire's "Funeral" is essential, not for the words you can put to it, but to the infinite wonders that it possesses. It doesn't make me want to go out and live my life better. Actually, all it does it make me want to blast it and dance around, singing along with Win and Regine, jumping on my bed, playing all seven trillion instruments with my hands in the air, and forgetting any worry that I might have. If that doesn't sounds like great music to you, fine. Your loss. Because it is great music.

One day, all of our candles will be blown out and we will be missed. But if we live to carve our names out in the hearts of those we touch, we will never be forgotten. In that sentiment, "Funeral" lives. It is the greatest album to come out of the "next wave" movement, powerful,sublime and yes...timeless. A masterpiece that will be love by generations to come..

YES...That good!
Take On Me
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 3:22 pm

Postby Frau_Blucher » Tue May 24, 2005 1:25 pm

Excellent as usual! Even better for an Arcade Fire fan, but I wonder if a non-fan might have found this one a bit long and roundabout. Agreed with everything you say, but I vote for more structured form in your next review. Well this is easy, critiqueing
Room at the Top
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Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 1:37 pm

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