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Showing 1-10 of 131 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 512 reviews
VINE VOICEon May 25, 2005
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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VINE VOICEon September 14, 2015
The first time I heard "Wake Up" I never heard of Arcade Fire. It was for the trailer of Where the Wild Things Are, I'm ashamed to say, but I decided to check out the band anyway.
This was the first time I listened to an entire album without pause from a band I've never before heard. To me, that's a big deal.

The whole album is a masterpiece; even "Wake Up," which is one of the best songs I've heard, doesn't overshadow any of the other songs, something which a lot of singles from newer bands tend to do. The whole CD *needs* to be listened to from start to finish; there is no skipping, no starting at a certain track. It's just popping in the album and pressing play, and the only time you change the CD is when it stops after the last song.

Heck, writing this review made me want to listen to it again, and I am .
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on December 18, 2016
Just really good, great for in the car.
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on September 17, 2016
we love this album!
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on March 3, 2017
Very nice vinyl package. Download is CD quality (16 bit 44.1 Hz).
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on November 19, 2013
Not sure why this album got such rave reviews. I took a chance and bought it based on the reviews and now wish I could get a refund. They said it was the latest and greatest rock album. All I heard was a whiny garage band.
Even after three good listens, and I have an educated ear, there just wasn't anything there. If this is the best that rock has to offer, then rock is in big trouble.
I gave it one star for the album art.
San Diego has several up and coming bands that can blow the doors off of this whine fest band.
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on November 22, 2004
Without a doubt, this is an amazing piece of musical work. It's deep on many levels, and has a sound that is unbelievably unique and extremely unpretentious and honest. In my estimation, Funeral is (by far) the best album to be released in 2004.

Most reviewers have got it right -- it takes a bit to seep in, as in a couple of repeated listenings, but the album just keeps getting better and better each time around. I listen to it at least once a day, it seems. Truly an album that we may be able to show our kids one day and tell them: "This is what great rock was back when I was young." Although this band has garnered much hype, it is well deserved.

My only worry is that this kind of album will be nearly impossible to top in the Arcade Fire's sophmore effort. If they manage to even come close to the kind of album Funeral is with their next album, it will be an incredible feat.

For the naysayer indie kids, I ask you this: What exactly is your choice for album of the year in 2004, if not this one?
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on February 1, 2005
i haven't reviewed an album on in years. every now and then you come across something special, something bursting with life, with spirit, with moments of genius. this is one of those albums. top 40 people will probably not like this, it's very different, challenging and non-formulaic. however, if you enjoy stuff like the pixies, neutral milk hotel, cat power, built to spill, you'll LOVE arcade fire.

they employ walls of swirling sound, intelligent wordplay, and guttural emotion. wow, is all i can say after listening to it through 4 times over these first few days i've had it. its music like this that reminds you why you love music, feel music, so much deep inside you. bravo. encore.
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on March 3, 2005
Idealistically, there are few things more appealing than the apocalyptic notion of complete isolation. Large scale worldwide end-of-the-world apocalypse or small, "Lord of the Flies" type trapped-on-a-deserted-island seclusion, we have all been occasionally aroused by this type of all-alone-in-the-world separation. Ever since the dawn of mass civilization and the overwrought hustle and bustle of the modern world, being The Only People/Person on Earth has inspired thousands of years worth of art and literature for its romantically serene notions, dating back to and beyond the fable of Adam and Eve from Christianity. Usually a combination of loss and innocence- first the loss of power, whether it take the form of god, government, or even parents, and second, a perceived "return to innocence" because of this loss- the one thing that our art has taught us is that, basically, the apocalypse sucks. It's cool for a little while, but ultimately loneliness sets in, we freak, and begin to want more than this nothing, having come from a society where we are conditioned to want Everything. Even on South Park the kids couldn't last long without their parents, and in 28 Days Later, Jim can't get on without believing that "society" still exists somewhere.

The opening menagerie from the Arcade Fire's debut album, "Funeral," plays out a frosty mini-apocalypse, complete with icy parents, tunnels under the snow, a vampire brother, and a year of darkness. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" introduces the metaphorical End Of The World, as snow buries the houses and our narrator and his lover make their way alone ("we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know"). Forgetting their parents ("whatever happened to them?!") and all the names that they were going to name their baby ("we forgot..."), their "skin gets thicker from living out in the snow." This all goes down beneath a gorgeous piano and xylophone twinkling, like a patient, classical version of Interpol. The second neighborhood tune (Laika) introduces us to perhaps the progenitor of the metaphorical apocalypse, a brother named Alexander, bit by a "vampire" and forced to drink a years worth of his "tears in a cup" for his own good and for the sake of the neighborhood. Emotionally driven and resonating beyond this realm, singer Win Butler makes like Ian Curtis, encouraging the neighbors to "dance in the police disco lights" brought on by Alex's fights with their father. Only the next to last track, "Rebellion (Lies)" comes close to matching the emotion of the opening couplet, but you'll need the rest.

The opening quintet concludes with a mellow, half French soiree about "Une annee sans lumiere," with darkness enveloping the hood for a year. Finally, our narrator wakes up with the neighbors "all shoutin' that they found the light," only to find the power out "in the heart of man." The neighborhood tale is concluded with a pensive realization about the frightening sadness and regenerative power of time- "time keeps creepin' through the neighborhood/ killing old folks, wakin' up babies."

The second half of the album breaks from the neighborhood theme, but not from a lack of thematic cohesion. "Haiti" is a love ballad to the homeland of Regine Chassagne that "she'll never see", complete with a spookily transparent synth line and rushing waves that ache and break like John Lennon. Crying for the children in their "unmarked graves where flowers grow," she spiritually exorcises the demons of war and violence, promising that "all the tears and all the bodies will bring about our second birth."

Already legendary, the bands mystique only plays up the emotional weight of the debut. After the marriage of Butler and Chassagne and during the recording of "Funeral", the band lost nearly ten family members amongst them during the "terrible winter of 2004," according to liner notes (hence the title as well). This is dealt with on the album's denouement, a bjork-like send up to survival amidst emotional despair. "My family tree's losing all its leaves" Chassagne laments, before realizing that she has been "learning to drive my whole life."
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on March 11, 2005
I discovered this album late, so it's interesting to now read the various reviews from Amazon members. The vast majority love it for being so unique, refreshing, uplifting, insightful, tragic, emotional and downright inspiring. My rating of 5 stars confirms that I'm a member of that majority.

Although I certainly respect contrary opinions (the eye of the beholder), it's amazing to me that so many people have slagged this album simply because of the "obvious" influences with insinuations of mere copying and pasting. Every musician from Bowie to Jeff Buckley to Radiohead to Lou Reed is quoted as an influence. Basically, just about every significant musical act of the last 30 years. In response to that, I what?

Name a musician working today who hasn't been influenced by the past? In fact, I challenge you to name a musician who is considered to be an "innovator" of music (i.e. Chuck Berry, Rolling Stones, Beatles, etc.) who wasn't in some way influenced by Mozart or Beethoven, whether they knew it or not.

What I'm getting at here is that it shouldn't matter if you hear the sounds of older music in the music of today. To some degree it has to be expected - either as an ode to the greats of yesterday or as an unintentional inspiration.

As for Arcade Fire, do you honestly think they sat around and consciously mapped out a plan to take pieces of all the greats with hopes of hitting the big time? It sounds ridiculous just writing it. I suspect these guys are naturally gifted musicians with their own inspirations and they came up with this beautiful music on their own.

Enjoy it for what it is. In an age of over-synthed, heartless music with no soul, this shines through like a beacon of hope.

A true sign of a great album is that it gets better with every listen. This album does so for me, and for those of you out there who have yet to buy the album, I encourage you to do so in the hope that you will experience the same.

Rock on.



UPDATE (6/26/05)

I had to post an update to this review, having just seen The Arcade Fire perform at the Hollywood Bowl. Opening for the legendary David Byrne, they simply blew the roof off the place, which is a good thing since there isn't a roof on the Bowl. I have to hand it to David Byrne for signing this band up, because he had a hard time matching the energy they created in the sold-out performance with 18,000+ screaming fans. He could have signed up a marginal band that would have made him look that much better, but instead he exposed this magical band to all of Los Angeles.

The Arcade Fire consist of a nine person band, but that wasn't enough. They had to bring on 6 additional violinists/cellists to create the symphonic wall of sound captured on this amazing album. Some bands try to be weird just to be weird, and at times I thought they were heading down the same road. Case in point - at one moment of the show two band members wearing gold/black motorcyle helmets from the 70's were wrestling each other on the stage, hitting each other with drumsticks. This could have detracted from the music, but to our surprise it didn't. Seeing this band live is like watching a carnival of freaks setting themselves on fire at the expense of entertaining the crowd, but when it's all said and done they walk away unharmed, having left behind a mass of people simply amazed at the beauty and sheer power of their music. This band rocks.

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