Funeral by Arcade Fire

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Funeral by Arcade Fire
Funeral by Arcade Fire

Album Released: 2004

Funeral ::: Artwork

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1.Neighbourhood No.1 (Tunnels)4:48
2.Neighbourhood No.2 (Laika)3:32
3.Une Année Sans Lumière 3:41
4.Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)5:12
5.Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)4:49
6.Crown Of Love4:42
7.Wake Up5:35
9.Rebellion (Lies)5:10
10.In The Backseat6:20


This release is deemed to be the No.1 album of 2004, which seems only to reflect the sorry state of music around that time.

For Funeral is an album whose instrumentation is so top-heavy and overloaded (and what's more sounding like it was all crammed onto a cheap 4-track tape) that it sounds muffled and dense from start to finish - quite claustrophobic, due to a flat mix that's destroyed any sense of sonic depth.

Whilst some of the compositions here do actually sound quite promising, the addition of strings - apparently intended to generate a kind of chilly mournful air - instead just sound like sonic leakage much of the time, as though emanating from an orchestra tuning up in the studio next door.

Then there's the uninspired plodding of the kickdrum that backs many of the tracks on this album, once again sounding more like leakage, but this time emulating the dull thud thud thud of a danceclub - as heard from outside on the street.

All in all then, I found Funeral to be a very peculiar mix of watery whimpering vocals, eastern European folkmusic, a miserable-sounding late 19th century chamber-style string quartet, plus er - a house beat.

Thus the album seems much like marmite-flavoured icecream - some combinations just don't go well together - the songs are OK I suppose, but their arrangement and production sounds like little more than a case of being-weird-for-its-own-sake.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon

Heartache into beauty, as the band see three relatives die within the space of a month, as well as a marriage between the band's two principal members.

Forward to September 2004 to give birth to a beautiful debut LP, title it Funeral for very apparent reasons, make sure the album contains instrumentation such as accordian, acoustic guitar, and kettle whistles, as well as vocals of extreme yelped emotion. Indeed, as soon as the opener begins, you're thrown spectactularly into the world of The Arcade Fire.

"Tunnels" is one of the most evocative, stunning album openers of recent years. In fact, although I generally avoid quoting lyrics within reviews if I can help it, the opening section of 'Tunnels' deserves to be reprinted:

And if the snow buries my, my neighboorhood, and if my parents are crying, then I'll dig a tunnel from my window to yours. Yeah, a tunnel from my window to yours. You climb out the chimney and meet me in the middle, the middle of the town. And since there's no one else around we let our hair grow long, and forget all we used to know. Then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

The song begins with a faint electronic whine appearing in the background, a melody plucked out amid echo. Bass drum, and vocals sounding vaguely akin to what The Flaming Lips would sound like if they'd suddenly also attended three funerals and generally had all the ego knocked out of them.

That's a strange description I know, but then these are strange vocals. Quite distinctive and seemingly growing in strength, or at least attempting to, as the song progresses. Layers of instrumentation are added, sections arrive and go and it's quite some story we get to hear, quite an emotional dreamy journey. In a word, it's fantastic.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

As much as I love Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, for its size Canada has had a somewhat underwhelming impact on the pop music era.

So it′s probably not a stretch to say that - unless you′re a card-carrying Rush fan - with a few more records as good as Funeral, it′s not inconceivable that Montreal′s Arcade Fire could go down as one of the best bands to emerge from the country, along with a few other contenders from the indie scene.

Dual lead singers, husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, both have interesting backgrounds. Butler majored in religious studies, while the part-Haitian Régine played recorder in a pre-Renaissance medieval band.

The album's title is inspired by the deaths of several of their relatives during recording, including Régine's mother and grandmother, and Win's grandfather, Big Band leader and pedal steel player Alvino Rey.

It′s kind of difficult to describe the group′s sound, but they′re basically indie rock with orchestration, getting a lot of mileage from the juxtaposition of aggressive stripped-down tracks with less conventional rock instruments layered over the top. Most of the band members are multi-instrumentalists, and there are odd instruments like accordions and strings all over the place, giving the album its distinctive nuances.

While they're firmly part of the indie camp, even on this debut their individual sound is established. The Pixies are often cited as an influence, but apart from Butler's occasionally abrasive vocals, there's little comparison - Arcade Fire's arrangements are much more ornate and varied than The Pixies.

The songs aren't particularly sophisticated, but there are hooks all over the place, from the choral backing vocals to the string or accordion melodies, and Butler′s emotive delivery (he sings lead on eight of the ten tracks) is engaging.

The four parts of "Neighbourhood" aren't linked musically, but do share common themes of community and relationships. The determination to make the most of life is another recurring motif.

Funeral is a very strong debut, and it deservedly won polls as Album of the Year.

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by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia (blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct])

I first came across Arcade Fire via a self-released EP on their website. Then I read a few short articles about how they put on one hell of a live show, and that their somewhat semi-produced EP was just the tip of the iceberg. Yet even on those rough tracks, the EP's reckless energy was infectious, and had me looking forward to their next release.

Funeral is the band's full-length debut, and it was immediately lauded as one of the best discs of 2004. Like Broken Social Scene - another notable Canadian band that broke around the same time - Arcade Fire mix styles effortlessly on Funeral, ensuring the album kept me interested nearly throughout.

If I'd heard just the first half of this album, I would probably proclaim it the best of its year as well. Opening with "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)", the group takes off with dense sheets of guitars, piano, and rumbling drums that propel what is a gorgeous track, that bursts at the seams by the end. "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" mixes shouted vocal harmonies with strings, accordion, and more sharp guitars for great dynamic effect, while "Une Anne Sans Lumiere" takes things down a bit for a nice breather.

Just as I expect the group to calm things down further, they unleash what is one of the best tracks I've heard, "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)". Although technically the track has a fairly simple structure of repetitive percussion with alternating quiet / loud sections, it builds with an infectious glee that makes me want to run into the street and scream along with it.

After such a glorious beginning, the album takes a bit of a breather, and although the closing "In the Backseat" falls a little too close to the weepy side of things, like the rest of the small dips on the album it doesn't diminish the overall quality of the release by much. So, in a year full of great albums, this was another entry that ended up somewhere near the top in 2004.

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by Reviewer: Aaron Coleman (blogging at Almost Cool Music Reviews)

Although in indie circles Funeral was the #1 smash hit album of 2004, in my view - whilst it's pretty good - it's no better than that, and it's hideously overrated.

Funeral had the indie community grasping their penises with a full palm of lotion and rhythmically thrusting in unison like no other record of its year. In terms of unanimous love, I’ve even seen it compared to Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (and in that case, I'd say both Being There and A Ghost is Born are superior records to that over-rated pile of well-written but morosely dull boringness).

Funeral is NOT as finger-lickin' good as Pitchfork claims - they only love 'nice' records, and spooge all over them like they’re Abbey Road, Part II. So then, what makes this album good, but not as good as Pitchfork makes out?

Unlike Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which had damn good songs goofed-up by retarded arrangements and a complete lack of energy, Funeral contains mediocre songs chock full of emotion and embellished with arrangements that are often excellent, but not so consistently brilliant that they cover up for completely rudimentary guitar parts and a general lack of top-notch melodies.

I know that three of the band members’ relatives died while they were recording this thing, and those events do result in some very emotionally affecting moments during the course of the album, but pretty arrangements and a few nice climaxes are not all that I need in a record. See, Arcade Fire have some serious flaws ...

First, I’d like to touch on the vocals of singer Win Butler - namely, that he can’t sing and they’re not good. Now, one might say that emotional expressiveness is more important than any technical ability, and to that I will grudgingly agree in principle. However, Butler is one of the whiniest-sounding frontmen I’ve ever heard, and his screams of anguish sound like a pre-adolescent having a tantrum at the local mall because his mommy won’t buy him an Orange Julius. He’s FUCKING ANNOYING ...

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by Reviewer: BRAD