As Mike Skinner has so brilliantly captured on A Grand Don’t Come for Free, life is composed of a series of singular seemingly inconsequential moments. It’s these sequences of events and minutiae that come to not just encompass but define our lives—it’s a mistake that the “big ones” are the things that differentiate our existences from one another, in general we all suffer and enjoy the same major base of occurrences (death, marriage, parenthood, etc). It’s obvious these events change our lives; but who can underrate the million beautiful sunsets, migraines, and side-splitting laughs we have along the way?
Well, sometimes (as in the case of Skinner, and many others of us), we’re actually so immersed in the individual moments in time that the big ones knock us on our ass—recovery is all that matters afterwards. The Arcade Fire have turned this sort of surprise into the type of album that lives forever in the minds of anyone who hears it. Funeral is a lament of mortality and the hand that takes said precious commodity from us. Its value lies in its ability to sweep across epic and elegant arrangements, to manage so many different faces that the only descriptors applicable regard its effect on whomever it graces, not just the genres and styles the album slides across.
Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, the husband-wife duo that comprise The Arcade Fire, dealt with their tragedies by creating the type of cathartic release that cleans the soul. And, as is usually the case when dealing with death, along the way the group approach the shackles and day-in-day-outisms of life—quickly moving through the arrested hope and free optimism of childhood into the regret and lost yearning that comes with age during the album’s wonderful “Neighborhood” suite. It seems the duo felt they should take the opportunity of the mournful Funeral as an indulgence to cleanse themselves and start anew.
The album sounds conflicted—there is an obvious passion and fire, pure energy bubbling akin to Trail of Dead’s Source Tags and Codes. But whereas the latter would release such energy with violent fury, The Arcade Fire tempers its release with nervous restraint.
Funeral, like the existence it mirrors, is a sequence of moments. The album’s best, a knife that cuts through the center of the agony of “Une Anne Sans Lumiere” and releases a frantic display of physical, epiphanic glory, is the perfect microcosm for Funeral itself—our own personal salvations lie within, sometimes it takes the moving of mountains in one’s life to realize it. Luckily, for those of us fortunate enough to not have to deal with such pain, Funeral contains enough power and affirmation to help us move them ourselves.