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.
is a very strong debut, and it deservedly won polls as Album of the Year.Rated:
by Reviewer: Fyfeopedia
(blogging at Fyfeopedia [Defunct]