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Arcade Fire
by: Sun-J

Arcade Fire spent this passed summer touring with the Wrens and Unicorns, spreading their eccentric rock message far and near. The plunge of Neutral Milk Hotel forced Merge Records to recruit a potential replacement. In Arcade Fire, they perhaps hold the indie-rock album of the year. Arcade Fire's music is a mixture of at least fifteen different instruments. The band is led by a couple, Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. The Montreal band tested waters, dropping a 7" single ("Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)) early this summer, and received a very positive response. Merge Records was quick to ink them long term, and soon their debut was released. The ten track LP, Funeral (named so because of a death in the family), features a four part series called "Neighborhoods" telling the relationship of two star crossed lovers, and their infatuations with each other from childhood to marriage.

The album opens with the throbbing piano and minor guitar of "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)", a track describing two people digging tunnels to meet each other. "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" features accordion, guitar, drums, and violin in addition to the crooning of Butler, "Our elder brother, bit by a vampire, for a year we caught tears in his cup." "Une Annee Sans Lumiere" interrupts the four song series with its French theme, and luminous sounds. The series continues with "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" and ends with "Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)" a very emotionally descriptive song, with crystal imagery, "a watched pot won't ever boil, so I closed my eyes, and nothing changed, just some water getting hotter in a flame." The next song, "Crown of Love," is a piano driven emo-waltz, depicting an obsessed lovers deepest emotions, "I carved your name across my eye lids, you pray for rain, I pray for blindness." "Wake Up" is reminiscent of The Decembrists with its convoluted lyricism; "Children wakeup, hold your mistake up, before they turn the summer into dust." "Haiti" is an acoustic song driven by a careful bass line featuring the alternating French and English vocals of Regine Chassagne over a Caribbean, percussion back drop. The album closes with "The Backseat," a cut that is very similar to what a French-Canadian Bjork would sound like. Funeral has deservingly received rave reviews on their spectacular debut. Win Butlers vocals are an octave above David Byrne, and Regine Chassagne's alternating French and English currents keep the album interesting and diverse, to match the myriad of instruments implemented in fusing this LP. If you are a fan of Broken Social Scene or Modest Mouse, I suggest giving this album a listen. If you are also into Flaming Lips and Polyphonic Spree, you will adore this LP.



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