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Audio CD, September 14, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Fronted by the husband-and-wife team of Win Butler and R‚gine Chassagne, the Arcade Fire's emotional debut - rendered even more poignant by the dedications to recently departed family members contained in its liner notes - is brave, empowering, and dusted with something that many of the indie-rock genre's more contrived acts desperately lack: an element of real danger. Funeral' s mourners - specifically Butler and Chassagne - inhabit the same post-apocalyptic world as London Suede's Dog Man Star; they are broken, beaten, and ferociously romantic, reveling in the brutal beauty of their surroundings like a heathen Adam & Eve. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)," the first of four metaphorical forays into the geography of the soul, follows a pair of young lovers who meet in the middle of the town through tunnels that connect to their bedrooms. Over a soaring piano lead that's effectively doubled by distorted guitar, they reach a Lord of the Flies-tinged utopia where they can't even remember their names or the faces of their weeping parents. Butler sings like Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood used to play, like a lion-tamer whose whip grows shorter with each and every lash. He can barely contain himself, and when he lets loose it's both melodic and primal, like Berlin-era Bowie or British Sea Power. "Neighborhood #2 (La‹ka)" examines suicidal desperation through an angular Gang of Four prism; the hypnotic wash of strings and subtle meter changes of "Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)" winsomely capture the mundane doings of day-to-day existence; and "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)," Funeral's victorious soul-thumping core, is a goose bump-inducing rallying cry centered around the notion that "the power's out in the heart of man, take it from your heart and put it in your hand." The Arcade Fire are not bereft of whimsy. "Crown of Love" is like a wedding cake dropped in slow motion, utilizing a Johnny Mandel-style string section and a sweet, soda-pop stand chorus to provide solace to a jilted lover yearning for a way back into the fold, and "Haiti" relies on a sunny island melody to explore the complexities of Chassagne's mercurial homeland. However, it's the sheer power and scope of cuts like "Wake Up" - featuring all 15 musicians singing in unison - and the mesmerizing, early-Roxy Music pulse of "Rebellion (Lies)" that make Funeral the remarkable achievement that it is. These are songs that pump blood back into the heart as fast and furiously as it's draining from the sleeve on which it beats, and by the time Chassagne dissects her love of riding "In the Backseat" with the radio on, despite her desperate fear of driving, Funeral's singular thread is finally revealed; love does conquer all, especially love for the cathartic power of music.

"Wake Up," a track from the debut full-length by Montreal's Arcade Fire, builds from a midtempo strum into a "You Can't Hurry Love" gallop, which singer Win Butler interrupts with a yell: "You better look out below!" Somehow, none of this hits the ear as overemotional. Throughout Funeral, the band augments its five-piece lineup with string sections, weaving near-cinematic, folk-influenced chamber pop that slots in somewhere between Belle and Sebastian's delicacy and the robust classicism of ’80s New Zealand bands such as the Chills and the Verlaines. The album drips with enough romanticism to rival Jeff Buckley's Grace, from the dreamscape of "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" ("Meet me in the middle of the town, forget all we used to know") to the epic realism of "In the Backseat." One of the indie rock community’s most beloved finds of 2004, Arcade Fire are poised to win over even more listeners. --Rickey Wright
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 14, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Merge Records
  • ASIN: B0002IVN9W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (496 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,322 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

498 of 541 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 20, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Only five years ago I was somewhat despondent about the state of rock music. Relatively little exciting new music was being produced compared with previous decades in the history of rock. But the past few years has seen an explosion of really fine bands from all over the planet, not merely from around the U.S. and England, but in every area of Europe and, as in the case of Arcade Fire, Canada. Most of these bands tend to fall into either of two categories: back to roots bands (usually European, where they go back almost to garage roots, and bands that synthesize much of the history of rock to create their own unique mixture. Arcade Fire clearly belongs to the latter. Like a band like Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire constantly reminds you of other bands. Most frequently I'm reminded of the Pixies and Talking Heads, but almost as often I hear echoes of Roxy Music, Joy Division, or even David Bowie and Brian Eno.

As anyone knows who has heard anything at all about this album, it was produced shortly after members of the band suffered the deaths of several family members in less than a month. This clearly gives the album not merely its title, but a lot of its urgency and focus. The album doesn't, however, deal with death (like Lou Reed's LOVE AND MAGICK does, for instance) but with love and life. The heart of the album is the quartet of the songs that share the title "Neighborhood." They take up four of the first five tracks on the album, and each one is utterly splendid in its own way. I might have a slight preference for the first one, subtitled "Tunnels," but if you ask me on a different listening I might opt for another.
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71 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Zhimbo VINE VOICE on May 25, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My impression of many of the negative reviews of this album - and some of the positive ones - is that folks are too caught up with how this band fits into a "scene", or making fine distinctions of cool and meta-cool (e.g., independent music that isn't detached and ironic enough should be derided).

Me, I'm some guy in my mid-30's who hasn't a clue what is cool anymore, or cooler-than-cool, but just tries like heck to search out interesting music by browsing the Web and trading suggestions with friends. And "Funeral" - which I only heard about a year or so after it came out - is one of my favorite finds in recent years.

This is passionate, beautiful, rich, yet catchy-as-all-heck pop music. It has touchstones in the past (to me, I hear Talking Heads and Sugarcubes, but this is richer and warmer music) but sounds fresh and forward looking. The lyrics interleave melancholy and regret with passion and hope so finely that the differences among these are obliterated. Check out "Haiti" - the only song with any overtly political level to it: "All the tears and all the bodies bring about our second birth" - and this is set to some of the catchiest, slinkiest, and most sensual rhythms you'll hear in pop music.

It's rare to hear such sustained inspiration on an album, much less a debut album. It actually brought tears to my eyes!
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231 of 263 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 14, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Every now and then, a truly original, groundbreaking band surfaces amid all the bland pop and rock. Montreal's Arcade Fire is one such band. In their glorious full-length debut "Funeral," Arcade Fire spins elaborate art-rock full of passion and atmosphere.

Rather than trying to hook you the way most songs do, Arcade Fire builds up their songs to a musical (and emotional) crescendo. The album opens on a four-song cycle called "Neighborhood," which deal with daydreams, neglect, fighting in a family, and just sitting around waiting for life to happen to you. All four things are pretty clearly considered disastrous -- don't waste time, make life happen!

Certainly that get-off-your-bum-and-make-things-happen attitude carries over to the wild "Wake Up," a howling anthem with an ever-evolving beat, and the well-named "Rebellion," where Win sings, ""Sleeping is giving in/no matter what the time is/Sleeping is giving in/so lift those heavy eyelids." You'll be emotionally exhausted when it reaches the wrenching finale, "In the Back Seat." And it does all this while making you dance too.

Most pop or rock songs are focused on "He/she left me/cheated on me and I'm miserable" or "I'm so in love." Don't expect anything so obvious from the Arcade Fire. These are about living life in general, not just one part of it. Why's it called "Funeral"? Partly the fear of dying without having accomplished something.

Musically, it will make your head spin. There's a blend of post-punk, rock, art-rock, pop, folk, classical, and much more -- like a punkier version of Neutral Milk Hotel or Modest Mouse. Woven together are xylophone, shimmering strings, swirling keyboard, piano, violins, and accordians. And they're all set to epic, crashing art-rock and disco rhythms.
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88 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Walter Werner on October 23, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Well, best of the decade SO FAR, but my point still stands. This album is magnificent. It managed to do EVERYTHING so effortlessly, and yet not make any of it gimicky. It all feels genuine. It's pure genius indie rock.

Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels): 9/10. A nice lead in to the record. It sets the mood for the record. The piano is used to puntuate the stead drum and base line, while the guitars subtly push the song forward from the backround. A brilliant little art-dance rock medley, that ALSO manages to be epic. I know that definition sounds bizarre but you'll see what I mean when you hear it.

Neighborhood #2 (Laika): 10/10. Following the style of the first song, this song gets a little more intense and guitar oriented, and is even more enthralling to listen to. The singer is capable of expressing such sorrow and hope together in a single way that really expresses the strue strength of this song. it sounds pathetic and sad despite it being uptempo, and when it cuts off, it feels like you've lost something. Brilliant, and possibly my favorite on the album.

Une Annee Sans Lumiere: 9/10. Used as a break for the four neighborhood songs. It uses a slightly different, more airy pop styled rock. The guitars aren't as distorted as much as usual, and the keyboarding makes it very pretty. This song probably wouldn't be so astounding were it not for it's placement. Remember how I said the previous song made you feel empty? Well this one makes you feel better again. It's still sorrowful, but it sounds more hopeful as well. And the end turns into pure rock, because....

Neighborhood #3 (Power Out): 9/10. An all-out rocker. Again though, it's not abrasive.
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Topic From this Discussion
What Music will they play at your Funeral?
A Pagan Place by the Waterboys. Neighborhood #1 by the Arcade Fire. Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. Once I Was by Tim Buckley. Hurt by Johnny Cash. Rebellion (Lies) by the Arcade Fire. Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. Church Not Made with Hands by the Waterboys. In fact I want all my... Read More
Feb 8, 2008 by S. Ritchie |  See all 17 posts
These are true masters of music...
I am been following arcade fire for several years now and have just purchased their music now, thanks to your post!
R.Brian Burkhardt
Your Funeral Guy
Dec 3, 2007 by R.Brian Burkhardt |  See all 2 posts
Help with Funeral Cost
where do we get this help from, my mom just died unexpectedly and we dont have the money for the funeral
Sep 5, 2009 by J. J. Nietering |  See all 2 posts
Don't understand what all the fuss is about
to Matthew J Gibson, The Clash, Joy Division, Talking Heads, Interpol, Leonard Cohen, Godspeed!, You Black Emporer...are you serious? Listen to any one of these bands back to back with Arcade Fire and you will see some similarities, but most of all you will see a huge difference in musical... Read More
Nov 14, 2006 by D. Mayo |  See all 3 posts
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