Arcade Fire – Funeral

This is the kind of album for which the word “quirky” might have been invented. The Arcade Fire are a Canadian band led by Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, who play an alarming array of instruments between them. Together with four other band members and some additional strings, they sound like several bands playing at once, not necessarily in the same style. It should be a horrible mess, but somehow a very pleasing, and intriguing sound emerges. The vocals have an unusual distorted feel – almost like they’re being sung down a telephone. Again, that should be dire, but when blended with the musical arrangements[1], the overall effect is rather special.

Standout tracks so far[2] include recent single Neighborhood #2 (Laika)

Alexander, our older brother,
set out for a great adventure.
He tore our images out of his pictures,
he scratched our names out of all his letters.

Our older brother bit by a Vampire!
For a year we caught his tears in a cup
And now we’re going to make him drink it.

Then there’s Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)

And the power’s out in the heart of man,
take it from your heart and put it in your hand.
And there’s something wrong in the heart of man,
you take it from your heart and put it in your hand!
Where’d you go?!

There’s a dark undercurrent to much of the album – it’s called Funeral because, as the sleeve notes put it

When family members kept dying they realised they should call their record “Funeral”, noting the irony of their first full length recording bearing a name with such closure.

But for all the darkness, it’s not at all depressing. Some fine tunes, complex arrangements and interesting lyrics[3] all work together to make something well worth listening to. Those nice 6Music people seem to like them, too.

[1] There aren’t a lot of bands who make such extensive use of xylophones…
[2] As ever, with repeated listening, some songs grow…
[3] Even the bits that are in French :yes: