I feel like every self respected music lover will go through a heavy phase of listening to Funeral by the Arcade Fire nonstop. It's just something I feel is unavoidable at this point. When I first heard of this band while spinning records during the Peel Slowly and See phase of my college radio career, I thought it sounded like a band I could never like. I never heard them, just heard of them. Random people I knew loved them and knowing the kind of music they liked, it was strange so I had some pre-decided idea of what this Arcade Fire sounded like. Given this prejudgement, I thought I'd never listen to the band. A friend who had his radio show before me liked them and burnt me the album along with the Mars Volta record of the time on a data disc. I quickly listened to Frances the Mute and enjoyed certain tracks and others thought were mush. The CD with this album on it slipped into my collection and took a few months to resurface. At this point, I still had no idea who or what the Arcade Fire sounded like. I figured what the hell, let's put on this Arcade Fire and hear what they are all about. Things changed forever.
Needless to say upon first listen I was hooked. Something so urgent about the record. It demanded to be listened to constantly. It had grandiose pop leanings and harsh, passionate vocals. It was beautiful and raw at the same time. It was polished and gritty. It had this strange enrapturing flavor to it that just stuck with me for months. Nothing but Arcade Fire to listen to. And nothing else seemed to matter. When I discussed this with other people I knew who enjoyed the album, they agreed 100% that it just had that effect on them. It's a maelstrom f pop music that sucks you in and begs you to stay. It's a beggar you enjoy giving your time to. Something about this record overtook me. It took me at the very end of my college career and into a relationship that went nowhere fast, but was a flash in the pan. It was the post graduate suck zone, but it was filled with beautiful music. It was an album to match the bitterness inside but the beauty outside of the world. I guess it really hit home the duality of man idea. Lord knows post-graduate life has been a duality of man fest.
It's a borderline concept album and as this list shows, I'm a sucker for concepts. I have yet to bring the concept into an idea, but the recurring title of Neighborhoods and such leads me to believe there is something going on underneath it all. The sumptuous nature of the record, the overwhelming feeling of loss yet the idea of moving on down the road after such a loss. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" is just about as epic of an opening track as you are ever going to hear. The anthem of "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" is jsut as effecting, yet in a less grandiose and more harsh and rock infused way. It's the kind of pounding drums and harrowing guitars that get under your skin and get you moving. "Crown of Love" is a ballad for the ages and one of the new millennium's finest works of brilliant musicianship and theatrics. It's half opera and half disco epic. It's the kind of song that you hear it once and you need to hear it again because you were too busy getting caught up in the moment that it sweeps you off your feet. You miss it because that tear wells up in the side of your eye and you are too strong to wipe it away. The dance outro helps get that pesky tear rolling. "Wake Up" is about as good as it gets. The chanting chorus, the rollicking guitar riff that doesn't really change and the strings welling up near the songs midsection just sweep you off your feet. It's basically the song that defined the moment in time that I couldn't stop listening to it. "I guess we'll just have to adjust" was the kind of advice I needed to get over the fact that life was totally different now.
Funeral may just be the best album of the last 8 years of the 2000's. It's just nothing but enrapturing music. It's something ahead of it's time but rooted in the classic baroque pop of the 60's and of ages past with it's accordians and string arrangements. I could see people in France in the 1700's enjoying this music. I can see hippies dancing to this. I can see sadsacks in the post 911 age getting a great deal of hope from it's message of redemption in a time of loss. I can see a loser like myself in his post graduate life trying to figure out what the fuck he needs to do with the rest of his life in order to get some sort of happiness or enjoyment from the world. Sometimes music has this power to transcend the murk and mire of the real world. Arcade Fire got this right and gave myself and probably many others happiness in sharing their emotional landscape and ideas of life and love through beautiful, meaningful music. Maybe I think way into this album, but even if I didn't I couldn't deny it's utter magnificent beauty.
I had to add this video with Bowie joining Arcade Fire. it's just too good.
1. The Who - Tommy
2. Beck - Odelay
3. Television - Marquee Moon
4. Weezer - Pinkerton
5. Brian Eno - Before & After Science
6. Wilco - A Ghost is Born
7. The Beatles - Rubber Soul
8. Grand Funk Railroad - Closer to Home
9. Foo Fighters - The Colour & The Shape
10. Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection
11. Interpol - Turn On the Bright Lights
12. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King
13. Jeff Buckley - Grace
14. Warren Zevon
15. Black Mountain - In The Future
16. XTC - Skylarking
17. Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
18. Nick Drake - Pink Moon
19. Stone Temple Pilots - Purple
20. The Clash - London Calling
21. Arcade Fire - Funeral
Up Next: The Velvet Underground and Nico