ARCADE FIRE – ” Funeral ” Classic Albums Released on September 14th 2004

Posted: July 7, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Funeral

After the release of this album, Arcade Fire’s popularity escalated at the same unwavering pace as lead-off track “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels).” What began with a twinkle and a passionate voice turned into a dance party before you knew it. The band’s rapid rise was a testament to word of mouth and a thrilling live show, but also the unmistakably winning material found on ‘Funeral.’ Like its title suggests, the album is both a mournful elegy and a celebration of life. Time signatures shift, guitars chug then blare, sweet noises drift in and out of earshot, and the folks in Arcade Fire never stop singing and shouting. It’s a beautiful slice of humanity.

I recall when I first bought it in 2005, I loved a couple of songs straight away, but wasn’t too sure about the rest of the album. Around two or three plays later and I was left in no doubt as to the greatness of the Canadian band’s first long player . When it was first released, I repeat-played Funeral like I was addicted to it; it made me feel euphoric, it brought me to tears… it made me feel so wonderfully alive. From the tinkling pianos that introduce the album like bubbling spring water on Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), the music, from tiny buds, bloom into an utterly relentless, gorgeous monster of a song with a beautiful streak of romanticism running through its core; the imagery of building a tunnel through the snow from “my window to yours” is truly endearing. Neighborhood #2 starts off with a thumping drum beat and disjointed shouted lyric in the verse, but soon explodes into a string-backed, thrilling chorus which provides a sublime juxtaposition. “My eyes are shooting sparks” croons Win Butler in the soft, yet shimmering Une Annee Sans Lumière and, even this gentle, more conventional sounding song ends with a thrashed guitar and high-tempo outro.

Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) begins with a cacophony of percussive instruments and growling guitar, providing an adrenaline rush of drama and melody whereas #4 (7 Kettles) is a more subtle animal, a slow burning acoustic track augmented by persuasive strings which are simply beautiful. One song that made an immediate impact on me the very first time I heard this record is Crown Of Love, an unbelievably heart-breaking and gorgeous melody combined with the magnificent lyrics, which are a desperately sorrowful plea to win back a broken love; “In my heart there’s flowers growin’/on the grave of our old love/since you gave me a straight answer” The tempo shift and pounding strings at the end of the song is the superb finishing touch on that masterful piece.

It seems impossible to think that anything could come close to”Crown Of Love” at that moment and then the opening bars of “Wake Up” begin to rhythmically chug, a sparse drum beat joins in and then it explodes into one of the most glorious, euphoric, stunning tracks I’ve ever heard . “Wake Up” is a masterpiece, perhaps the defining moment on”Funeral” all the album is truly great, but this particular composition takes it to another level and the lyrics are excellent (any song that begins with “Somethin’ filled my heart with nothin’” wins my adoration instantly). After such a magnificent track, it’s fine that “Haiti” sounds a little ordinary, as it only suffers by comparison. In fact, it has a pretty, persistent riff which happens to masks the dark meaning of the lyrics. “Rebellion (Lies)” is a powerful, relentless song which draws you into the mesmerising groove until it throws the curveball of a minor key change and takes the listener in another direction completely. The final song, In The Backseat, which Regine performs with a perfect mix of fragility and feeling, is a melodic beauty and the metaphoric meaning in the lyrics weigh heavy when revealed in the last few lines of the song; it’s the final knockout blow on an album that packs many emotional punches.

For me, Arcade Fire’s debut album is not only one of the greatest albums of the 21st century so far, but one of the greatest albums of all time. It’s one of an exclusive group of records that I will still listen to at least a few times every year and, each time, the power and beauty of the work never cease to amaze and astonish me. The musical composition, the inspired choice of instruments, the lyrics, Win Butler’s vocals, the frequent changes in tempo and emotions; it’s as close to perfection as it could possibly be. Funeral is a breathtaking piece of work (often literally) that sounded nothing pretty much nothing like anything that ever came before it and, in my opinion, that they have never quite managed to top or even equal since. Funeral is an all time great and, quite seriously, up there with the greatest releases of any artist.

Arcade Fire

  • Win Butler – vocals, 12 string electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, synthesizer, bass
  • Régine Chassagne – vocals, drums, synthesizer, piano, accordion, xylophone, recorders, percussion, double bass
  • Richard Reed Parry – electric guitar, synthesizer, organ, piano, accordion, xylophone, percussion, double bass, engineering, recording
  • Tim Kingsbury – bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar
  • Howard Bilerman – drums, guitar, engineer, recording
  • William Butler – bass, xylophone, synthesizer, percussion

What it did: Introduced the band as a family-and-friends gang-cum-cult. So titled because several of the band’s family members died while it was being made, ‘Funeral’ is a towering and life-affirming work about dancing through the darkness.  ‘Wake Up’ was played at the start of Manchester City home games in 2006.

thanks Andysweeney

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