Formed in 2003 Arcade Fire have released four albums in ten years. In 2010 Rolling Stone named their debut offering “Funeral” the album of the decade. Platinum-selling sophomore album “Neon Bible” debuted at #2 in the UK & USA. 2010’s “The Suburbs” debuted at #1 in seven countries and is certified platinum in the UK & Ireland. 2013’s “Reflektor” reached Top spot on both the Billboard 200 & UK Official Chart & was accompanied by NBC special, Here Comes TheNighttime, drawing 6 million viewers. Over the course of a 14 year career the band have won 2 BRIT awards, 10 Juno awards, 3 NME awards & a 2011 Grammy for album of the year. In short they are one of the world’s most successful & revered active bands.

Arcade Fire is a Canadian indie rock band, consisting of husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, along with Win’s younger brother William Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara. The band’s current touring line-up also includes former core member Sarah Neufeld, percussionist Tiwill Duprate and saxophonist Stuart Bogie. The band plays guitar, drums, bass guitar, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard, synthesizer, French Horn, accordion, harp, mandolin and hurdy-gurdy, and takes most of these instruments on tour; the multi-instrumentalist band members switch duties throughout shows.

Arcade Fire in 2017

Founded in 2000 by friends and classmates Win Butler and Josh Deu. the band came to prominence in 2004 with the release of their critically acclaimed debut album “Funeral” . 

After a hiatus of almost four years on Thursday 1st June the band announced their return with the release of new single “Everythnig Now” & the launch of an album of the same name, scheduled for release on July 28th. In addition to premiering the track live on Radio the band also performed the song live for the first time at a surprise show in Barcelona on Thursdaynohjy, ahead of their headline slot at Primavera Sound. Everything Now was produced by Arcade Fire, Thomas Bangalter and Steve Mackey, with co-production by Markus Dravs.

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Funeral (2004)

There are few records as aggressively warm-hearted as Funeral. Arcade Fire’s debut record, the work is one long, raw-edged adolescent howl: there’s little wonder why it lured so many lost and lonely teenagers under its spell. It just gets its audience; just understands every single one of their hopes and dreams and fascinations and fears.

It features lyrics to get tattooed across your skin, and melodies to be hummed for weeks, and in its bold sentimentality it might be one of the band’s most loveable records. After all, who can listen to a song like ‘Wake Up’ without feeling even a touch teary?

Many would rate this album higher, and I don’t blame them. It’s rare to hear a debut not only so sure of its own sound but so consistently good and with such variation in tone. Most would be lucky to have one full-blooded, full-flight pearls such as ‘Wake Up’, ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ or any of the ‘Neighbourhood…’ songs, let alone be so heavy with them as ‘Funeral’ is. It deftly delineated themes that still haunt the band to this day: the lost or vanishing innocence of “us kids”, the Cormac McCarthy-esque post-apocalyptic terror lurking beneath suburban cosiness, and of course, on Regine’s shimmeringly gorgeous moment in the spotlight, ‘Haiti’, the Carribbean island that furnishes inspiration on their latest work. An album to haunt, enchant and be clutched to the heart forever.

The Arcade Fire coalesced in Montreal, Quebec, and recorded their debut album ‘Funeral’ during one of that city’s arduous winters. It is a truly eccentric rock record: bizarre at turns and recognizable elsewhere, equally beautiful and harrowing, theatrical and sincere. At times, the album’s total disregard of formula and expectation is positively thrilling. it’s like a higher pitched David Byrne fronting Echo and the Bunnymen, the first two Roxy Music albums, Bjork and everything in between. This album will blow you away. a strikingly beautiful pop album that the haven’t bettered, and that is saying something.

It was only through Butler and Chassagne’s persistence that Arcade Fire did not die an early death. Wake Up, released in 2004, was written “in reaction to the band breaking up”, Butler said the same year. Perhaps this sense of finality fed into the deathly embrace of their debut album, Funeral, a record that helped turn these mismatched, nearly defunct musicians into one of the biggest groups in the world. Wake Up remains their calling card: grippingly charged with emotions and built to be sung back by tens of thousands. By dint of its success, it’s also responsible for many rotten pastiches – the Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Coldplay’s dress sense on Viva La Vida. But it’s authenticity remains. Instead of serving its purpose as a break-up song, it ended up being one that brings people together.

Funeral’s penultimate song is just shy of Wake Up in the spiritual, universally loved stakes. Nothing feels quite as cathartic as chanting the latter’s choruses in a muddy field like it might be your final gasp. The same applies to Rebellion (Lies), where cries of “Lies! Lies!” can border on aggressive. Particularly now, in an age of false pledges and fake news; perhaps the song will take greater prominence as it lives on. Both as an act of resistance and a window into childlike naivety, it’s a calling card for living life to its fullest potential, even in times of torment.

Despite The Suburbs’ vivid portrayal of forgotten towns – fleshed out by Spike Jonze in his short film Scenes from the Suburbs – nothing quite taps into the intimacy of life at home like Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels). Over five minutes, a dramatic scene unfolds in which Butler plans his escape from a broken family. He wants to grow his hair, build tunnels in the snow and take a great leap from reality. This was most people’s introduction to Arcade Fire, and it perfectly encapsulates their skill for sending everyday tales skywards.

Arcade Fire EP

A strange thing to listen to now, this 2003 collection has to come in last place as a bit of intriguing juvenilia. Though you can hear it now as the work of a unique act finding their feet, it’s also recognisably in the Americana-tinged, beardy, ‘another bloody Canadian band’ bracket of 2005. Win even displays a Neil Youngish warble on ‘Vampires/Forest Fire’, although he’s also already pleading “Let’s live in the suburbs…”. For Regineophiles, her voice has never sounded as clear, strong and foregrounded on the spook-psychy ‘I’m Sleeping In A Submarine’ and ‘The Woodlands National Anthem’. Though charming, the EP never sounds like the band are quite hitting their stride, often too cluttered or too hurried, never hitting the arresting poise of ‘Funeral’. The difference is clear to see on this early version of ‘No Cars Go’; if anyone tells you they prefer this version to the ‘Neon Bible’ one,

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Neon Bible (2007)

Last of the albums proper, yes, but nowhere near as much the black sheep of the family as most would make out. Listen to it now, and you can’t really remember why people ever saw it as a misstep; perhaps, But still; to find two car-related songs of such immensity as ‘No Cars Go’ and ‘Keep The Car Running’ (a Springsteen rip-off so convincing even the Boss bought it, performing it live with the band) on one album is remarkable. The murky, melodramatic magic of Black Mirror, the slightly heavy-handed grandeur of ‘Intervention’ with its churchy organ, the deliciously sexy blues hymn of ‘My Body Is A Cage’.

The Arcade Fire takes its sound to new and exciting places on its slavishly anticipated album, Neon Bible. The 11-track set was primarily recorded in a church outside the band’s Montreal homebase and features contributions from Final Fantasy’s Owen Pallett, Calexico’s Martin Wenk and Jacob Valenzuela and Wolf Parade’s Hadjii Bakara. Named after cult author John Kennedy Toole’s first novel, Neon Bible is smart and subtle enough to present itself as a personal discovery for every listener. The highlights include the pipe organ-drenched Intervention, the wobby, slowly building opener Black Mirror and the ominous Black Wave / Bad Vibrations, which is initially sung by Regine Chassagne before Win Butler takes over halfway through. Additional highlights include the sweet, solemn ballad Ocean of Noise, the propulsive, major-key rockers Keep the Car Running and The Well and the Lighthouse and the hardscrabble (Antichrist Television Blues), where Butler’s passionate phrasing recalls the Bruce Springsteen of Born to Run. Perfection.

The Canadian group’s founding members are anything but ordinary: in Win Butler, they had a Texas-raised, goofy, 6ft 3in boarding-school kid who would later be dubbed a “Serbian basketball player” by Tina Fey. The other half of the husband-wife team was Régine Chassagne, a daughter of Haitian refugees, who fled to Montreal during the dictatorship of François Duvalier. These two are best known for being backed by a round-robin of cellists, violinists, multi-instrumentalists of all shapes and sizes. It didn’t start that way, however. The apocalyptic No Cars Go, a song from second album Neon Bible, began as a cut from their self-titled EP. The release was launched in March 2003 with a show at Montreal’s Casa del Popolo, defined by tensions boiling over into an onstage bust-up. At the time, they were the opposite of the life-affirming oddballs cherished today.

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The Suburbs  (2010)

For some, Funeral is the band’s unbeatable masterpiece, but time is going some way to reveal The Suburbs as the band’s true masterpiece. So lean and single-minded as to almost be Arcade Fire’s mission statement, the record doesn’t feature a single dud track – from the heartache of ‘Deep Blue’ to rockabilly of ‘Month Of May’, every song is a keeper.

And, best of all, the album perfectly tempers the emotional with the intellectual – it’s either a pure, uncomplicated gut punch, or a scathing critique of gentrification and the horrors of suburbia.

The Arcade Fire release their third full-length studio album, ‘the Suburbs’, the album comes out with 8 different sleeve images, all are selected at random using the same catalogue number. produced by the arcade fire and co-produced by Markus Dravs, ‘the Suburbs’ was written, arranged and recorded around montreal and new york over two years. speaking about the music on the album, will said that there were, “two poles of the album, maybe have a rock’n’roll thing, then more electronics. the album lies between these extremes.”

It’s a divisive track among fans, but Month of May deserves inclusion because it shows a different side to the howling, barbaric force they’re known for. Dumb, repetitive, structured, simple to a T, it’s a complete outlier on the Suburbs devise track – a rude interruption that sounds like a razor-toothed punk song compared with the rest of the record’s floaty, rural stretch. “First they built the road, then they build the town, that’s why we’re still driving around,” bounds Butler, delirious surrounded by all this drudgery. What might sound like a straightforward rock song is one of Arcade Fire’s most experimental, daring moves.

Fewer arguments here, I imagine; the grand, elegiac sprawl of their third took one of Win Butler’s pet topics – yep, lost innocence in a disorientating dystopian conflict – and made it into a full-blown concept on the likes of ‘Suburban War’ and ‘The Sprawl’. The glossy, smooth surfaces of ‘Rococo’, with its baroque twists, and ‘Modern Man’, with is melancholic Tom Pettyisms, stunned with their sophistication, while the likes of ‘Ready To Start’ or ‘Month Of May’ flashed their raw, wild heart. An album that will still be revealing new facets in the likes of the enigmatic ‘Deep Blue’ as it charms with the immediate loveability of the discopop ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’ in decades to come.

Like any successful band, Arcade Fire have their critics; those who consider their disorderly racket to be a tired formula. Without question, Funeral saw them arriving at the right time. Indie rock was designed for the fringes until 2004, when Arcade Fire helped steer bigger audiences toward the work of Neutral Milk Hoteland Broken Social Scene.

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Reflektor  (2013)

Arcade Fire’s fourth album is by no means a universal choice as their best work. It’s not as smooth a listen as ‘The Suburbs’, it’s awkward and eclectic and experimentally rough-edged, but for me, ‘Reflektor’’s peaks hit higher than the previous albums’. Whatever you think of bold stylistic leaps like the Clash-like, dub-heavy ‘Flasbulb Eyes’ and the taut funk of ‘Reflektor’ (and for me, the blending of the sonic palettes of two of my favourite things, Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem, couldn’t be more masterfully done) heartbreaking, glimmering tracks like ‘It’s Never Over (Oh, Eurydice)’, ‘Porno’ and ‘Afterlife’ had me playing them over and over, drop-jawed, while the thrashy, glammy ‘Joan Of Arc’ and the Smiths-like ‘You Already Know’ show that grandiose as they get, they’ve not lost their sense of fun. It seems they just keep getting better and better; let’s hope that pattern continues.

The album title track is Arcade Fire’s most starriest moment: a James Murphy-produced, seven-minute epic so good that guest vocalist David Bowie jokingly threatened to steal it. At festival performances last year, Butler looked to the sky when singing Bowie’s line: “Thought you were praying to the resurrector / Turns out it was just a reflector.” For all Reflektor’s funky strut and sheer scale, it focused in on a modern fear – technology’s grip. What was poignant in 2013 has only taken on more relevance over the last four years.

Throughout their rise, Arcade Fire have remained rooted to Haiti. Chassagne co-founded Kanpe, a not-for-profit helping rural Haitian families in poverty. And to this day, for every ticket sold at an Arcade Fire show, $1 goes towards Partners in Health, which helps poor and marginalised people. Funeral deals with death in many ways – from initial grief to how it affects those around us – and both Butler and Chassagne lost grandparents during its making. For Chassagne, the record’s most personal song is Haiti, which refers to the loved ones she lost in the Jérémie Vespers massacre of 1964. She sings: “Mes cousins jamais nés hantent les nuits de Duvalier,” which translates to, “My unborn cousins haunt Duvalier’s nights.” Vocals were recorded in her bathroom, because she found the song too personal to sing in the studio. Fifty seconds in, you can hear her hitting the stop button on a tape recorder. Despite its stamp on Funeral, the real sound of the country appears most strongly on the group’s most recent record, Reflektor. Here Comes the Night Time, with its street-parade cacophony, brings the spirit of Haiti to life.

Reflektor saw Arcade Fire grappling with the idea of entering a new decade as one of the world’s biggest bands. Without compromising their barmy, emotion-led founding spirit, they’d wound up as permanent headliners, arena giants. Were they left with no room to grow? The resulting record was as grandiose a statement as they could possibly make, but the group also scratched an itch to go back to basics. In the lead-up to Reflektor’s release, they played hushed, intimate gigs under a pseudonym (the Reflektors), hiding their true selves under giant papier-mache heads. Normal Person opens with Butler at a loss, chanting: “Do you like rock’n’roll music? / Cause I don’t know if I do,” over waves of broken feedback and sparse claps, the kind you’d find when Arcade Fire used to play to 20 people, not 20,000. From there, the song lifts from gloomy dive bars to the stadiums they belong in, sporting wild guitar solos and euphoric synths, once again proving these guys are a million miles from normal.

Reflektor’s technology-is-bad-maybe crusade was foreseen in Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains). A glistening, Blondie-like classic, it finds Chassagne trying to find like-minded souls in the dead end of copy’n’paste, commercialised towns. “Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains,” she chants, referring to William Gibson’s theory that all cities will eventually merge into one blanket, urbanised “sprawl”. For all the doom and gloom, it remains one of Arcade Fire’s most light-footed, uplifting songs.

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Everything Now (2017)

Everything Now is the 5th studio album from Arcade Fire. The thirteen track album features the lead single Everything Now and was produced by Arcade Fire, Thomas Bangalter and Steve Mackey, with co-production by Markus Dravs.

The Canadian art-rockers are bigger, bolder and more fearful of the future than ever on their colossal fifth album

Arcade Fire have spent a career making a virtue of their own pomposity. Since 2004 debut ‘Funeral’, they’ve been unafraid to wrestle with big ideas that most bands wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. If it sometimes appears as though they believe society’s ills can be solved, or at least diagnosed, through the medium of grandiose art-rock records, you nonetheless have to admire their conviction that music ought to represent something more than mere ‘content’. Thankfully, after the ambitious-but-uneven ‘Reflektor’ (2013), ‘Everything Now’ marks an emphatic return to those lofty standards.

“Every song that I’ve ever heard is playing at the same time, it’s absurd,” declares starry-eyed frontman Win Butler on the album’s title-track, which is certainly one way to describe its mash-up of ‘Dancing Queen’ and Talking Heads’ ‘Road to Nowhere’. Uplifting, incisive and sublime would be another.

On the flipside, the empty hedonism of ‘Signs of Life’ and the self-loathing, suicidal youths of ‘Creature Comfort’ – one of whom, Butler notes, “Came so close/ Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record,” – serve as a reminder of the cruel irony that in this age of total connectivity, we’ve somehow contrived to make ourselves more isolated and alone than ever. ‘Everything Now’ might occasionally marvel at how far we’ve come, but it’s tempered by notes of dread at where we’re going.

Aptly enough for a record about information overload, it’s also had the veritable kitchen sink thrown at it, employing myriad styles, multiple big-name producers and the sort of ingenious, overblown marketing campaign that’s become the norm for this band. On the two-hander of ‘Infinite Content’ and ‘Infinite_Content’, the same song is presented in contrasting styles – one as a knowing postmodern thrash, the other as a languid acoustic ramble – but ultimately it’s the album’s sense of humanity, not its innate clever-cleverness, that elevates it to something special. “If you can’t see the forest for the trees, just burn it all down,” urges Butler as the mournful synth-pop of closing track ‘We Don’t Deserve Love’ builds to its climax, no longer sermonising from his pulpit, but howling in empathy from the ether.

Also

The Reflektor Tapes DVD

The Reflektor Tapes is a visually stunning and hypnotic documentary about the making of Arcade Fire’s hugely successful 2013 studio album Reflektor by director Kahlil Joseph (who also directed Beyoncé’s Lemonade film). The film received its premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The documentary captures recording sessions, live performances and the band’s time in Haiti, a country with which they have a long-standing relationship. The second disc in the set features Arcade Fire’s full length live concert from Earl’s Court in London on 6th June 2014 during the Reflektor tour, which perfectly complements the documentary.

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The albums

  • Funeral (2004)
  • Neon Bible (2007)
  • The Suburbs (2010)
  • Reflektor (2013)
  • Everything Now (2017)
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