The Arcade Fire – Funeral

The Arcade FireFuneral (Merge)

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.

MP3 of “Wake Up” via Insound.

11 thoughts on “The Arcade Fire – Funeral”

  1. amazing album, will surprise all the way through, but has incredible coherency at the same time. listen to it.

    and yeah, it rocks too, but not as much as they do live – take the chance to see them if you get it

  2. i can’t wait to see them. they are on tour now and im seeing them in tucson, az. i can’t stop listing to this album.

  3. Still don’t know if it deserves Album of the Year, though I can’t think of much else that breaks the boundary. The last song on this cd is stellar.

  4. I don’t know. I was given this CD by a friend who assured me it was the best thing he’s ever heard, but it touched my brain, not my heart. Maybe I need to listen again.

  5. One of my only qualms is that I can’t hear the lyrics very well: and it’s a little muddy, even for the low-fi sound. It is a great cd, though. Not the best thing I’ve ever heard, but a formidable contender.

  6. excellent review, probably the best i have read about a personal favorite from 04.

    isnt my personal cd of the year, madvillain, mike skinner, walkmen or pavement CRCR reissue took care of that, but a modern classic none the less. i cant wait to see them,one band that deserves the hype.

  7. This review is awful. I was going to write out a bunch of the specifics, but what a waste of my time. Did you listen to this album more than once? Did you skip through the tracks? Do you have no concept of what other people are saying about this album? I hope no one had to pay you for this piece.

  8. “Funeral” is the best album I have heard in years. Actually, I can’t even remember getting this excited over an album. And YES! it rocks.

  9. “Can you burn me a copy of that Arcade Fire disc?” I asked a friend recently.

    “yeah,” she said. “But only if I can also burn you a copy of The Mountain Goats. I can’t stomach giving someone a shitty disc unless I also give them something worth my time and energy.”

    “What the Fuck?” I thought “She must have be having a bad day, cause this album has gotten some mad props.”

    Once I got it home, though, I quickly realized that my friend was right. This is the most overrated Inide-snob excuse for an album so far this year. Not ony does in NOT rock. It doesn’t really do anything else either.

    Considering the high praise of the Indie community on this duo, I suggest we question just what the hell is going wrong with the Indie Community that fewer snobs aren’t calling foul!

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