Arcade Fire
Funeral


5.0
classic

Review

by Chewbacca USER (32 Reviews)
July 24th, 2005 | 74 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist


Death is a mysterious thing. At any moment, we could easily slip out of existence. Nobody is ever prepared for death. Maybe that is why it's so affecting, and even life changing, when someone slips from the grasp of Life's hands. To see a pale, lifeless body resting peacefully in a coffin, with their arms crossed over their chest, is one of the scariest and saddest things that you'll ever see. Right there, right in front of you, lies your fate, whether you know it or not. I don't think Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, husband and wife, knew it. While preparing for the recording of Funeral, several of their family members and loved ones past away, in a short period of time. Funeral itself feels like an open diary, where they themselves have allowed us to peer into the grief and heartbreak that they have suffered since those days.

Funeral is an onslaught of emotions and feelings, pouring from every recording, gushing from every strike of a violin string, reverberated off of the vocals chords of Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. The songs are simple in their arrangements, but each insrument adds to the atmosphere of the album more than anything complicated could. Mournful string parts add plaintive melody to the songs, moaning and crying. The bare, beautiful instrumentations reflect the bare, beautiful lyrics. Win Butler and Regine Chassagne's lyrics are nowhere near complicated, but that's just fine. The song's lyrical simplicity generates a feeling from the words alone. Each song is a romantic and escapist piece, with each song complimenting the other. Win Butler sings the lyrics as if each song is another funeral that he has to attend, with his wavering and earnest voice filling the headphones.

Funeral is based upon the four song metaphor and romantic storytelling of "Neighborhood". Each one possesses its own unique sound and story. "Tunnels," the first, is an escapist story of children who dig tunnels, so that they can meet each other, forgetting where their parents sleep or what their faces look like, and what their names were. The song begins with a simplistic, beautiful piano motif, with the string section lightly brush on their instruments. A distorted guitar compliments the piano, and the song is purely epic, building up to a grand crescendo, with the choir's grand "ooh". "Power Out," the third installment of the "Neighborhood" series rocks with jittery guitars and glockenshpiel, handclaps, and thundering drums, a rallying, anthemic call for people to be more heartfelt. The "power outage" theme was mainly of Regine's doing, as she had told Win of stories where the power had gone out all through the city.

On the other side of the "Neighborhood" section, there are even more heart-wrenching and bare-bones, emotionally, songs. "Crown of Love" is a waltz-time songs led by sugary and melodramatic strings, cradleing the song back and forth. Regine adds backround vocals, with Win sounding on the verge of a breakdown. The song eventually morphs into a string-section disco breakdown, providing a climatic, and energetic, ending to a gorgeous, plaintive song. "Wake Up" features all 15 musicians singing at once, over the rock backing. Win sings as if he's looking back on everything that has happened, with lyrics like "Now that I'm older, my heart's colder, and I can see that it's a lie", adding even more to the mood of the song and album. The song, like "Crown of Love" and "Une Annee Sans Lumiere", morphs into one of the most breathtaking and exciting pieces of music. The band drops out, when a Motown-esque piano melody and thumping bass, and steady drums come in, with the whole 15-person choir moaning and singing like angels sent down from Heaven, with guitar accompaniment. Win eventually yells "You better ook out below!" once the song builds up again, ending on some whining strings.

"Haiti" is driven by a bass line and drum beat, with acoustic guitars and Regine singing about her homeland in French, with what seems to be an "underwater" effect, with piano sparkling and adding even more dimensions to the song. "Rebellion (Lies)" is a thumping, bass driven song. The piano playing adds a very baroque feel to the album, with Win singing softly over the driving guitar. The song builds up several times, with a chorus of "Every time you close your eyes (Lies, lies!)" and and some violin adding a shaky, subtle melody to the song. It builds upon again, with an angry Win shouting over the band, coming in at full force. Funeral ends on the somber, quiet "In the Backseat," a reccolection of watching the countryside, but fearing driving at the same time. With lines like "My family tree is losing all it's leaves," there seems to be another dimension to the song, probably about the recent passings. The song builds up and drops back down, with beautiful string motifs, swaying and crooning back and forth like the win. The song eventually crescendos into a grand climax, where Regine and wails and moans the lyrics, showing her astonishing vocal power, yet keeping the depressed tone in her voice. It proves to be a perfect ending to the album, and somewhat of a anti-climax, and a climax, at the same time.

Funeral, despite the title of the album, is a celebration of life and happiness, and being able to overcome the tribulations of death and love. The album, despite revolving mainly around the passing of the relatives, possesses an uplifiting tone. Everything on the album perfectly compiments each other. The sorrowful strings waver and cradle the songs back and forth with astounding beauty, while Win Butler mourns and ponders through the deeply personal, yet simple lyrics. The band provide a sparse, yet atmospheric and tasteful backing, that furthers the thought of everything complimenting. The whole album is a wave, moving up and down, through the whole spectrum of emotions that one can possibly conjure. Funeral is transcendant; it goes past genres and stereotypes, and reminds us all how purely honest and emotional music can be.



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user ratings (3138)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
atomicpunk
July 24th 2005


2 Comments


awesome review. ive heard rebellion (lies) and neighborhood#3(powerout) and they simply blew me away. need to pick this one up.

Iai
Emeritus
July 24th 2005


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Did you post this in Alt/Indie a while back? I'm almost certain I've read it before.

Rudd13
July 24th 2005


952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Youve made me a happy man, vague, a very happy man.

You, sir, deserve a promotion.

Excellent review for an amazing album.

Thumb-scale: 3

:thumb:
:thumb:
:thumb:

masada
July 24th 2005


2733 Comments


[quote=Iai]Did you post this in Alt/Indie a while back? I'm almost certain I've read it before.[/quote]
No. Pixiesfanyo has done one, and there was also one done by someone, but it was deleted becuase it sucked.This Message Edited On 07.24.05

Killtacular
July 24th 2005


1314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Stop writing such good reviews. You're making me look bad.

:thumb:

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 24th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

[quote=pitchforkmedia.com]The years leading up to the recording of Funeral were marked with death. Chassagne's grandmother passed away in June of 2003, Butler's grandfather in March of 2004, and bandmate Richard Parry's aunt the following month. These songs demonstrate a collective subliminal recognition of the powerful but oddly distanced pain that follows the death of an aging loved one. Funeral evokes sickness and death, but also understanding and renewal; childlike mystification, but also the impending coldness of maturity. The recurring motif of a non-specific "neighborhood" suggests the supportive bonds of family and community, but most of its lyrical imagery is overpoweringly desolate.[/quote]

Rudd13
July 24th 2005


952 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Eh?This Message Edited On 11.24.05

NEDM
July 24th 2005


1113 Comments


What's that?This Message Edited On 04.17.06

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 24th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

No I just found it interesting that there are very distinct parallels between the beginning of something vague's review and the pitchforkmedia paragraph.

Little Man being Erased
July 24th 2005


87 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's written on the same subject, therefore there are bound to be similarities, but it is obviously not plagiarised.


Great review and album.This Message Edited On 07.24.05

pixiesfanyo
July 24th 2005


1223 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Uhm. Mine isn't the same at all lame boy.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 24th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

No I'm saying the insight on the subject is the same. I generally dislike this album, which is a contrasting view to that of the reviewer. Two different reviews of the same material. pitchfork and somethingvague are similar I'm saying.

Med57
Moderator
July 24th 2005


1001 Comments


They're similar, but I'd have written something like that if I'd written a review of this album (which I was actually planning on doing). Not to make something vague feel guilty or anything for stealing another review off me. Anyway, typically great review, great album, etc.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
July 25th 2005


2125 Comments


The last thing we need is another review of this album Med. There are like 12 on the site. Something vague did a good job though.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 25th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Somebody should review Murder by Death instead. The good version of Arcade Fire.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
July 25th 2005


2125 Comments


I've been meaning to hear that band for ages. I was going to wait longer, but that DFelon comment will force me to check them out this afternoon.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 25th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I can send you some over AIM if you like. For me indie bands if indie bands aren't skilled in the songwriting department then there's usually nothing to listen to. Murder by Death rules at songwriting.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 25th 2005


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Here's a present breadboy, http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=2938&genreid=37

masada
July 25th 2005


2733 Comments


[quote=br3ad_man]There are like 12 on the site.[/quote]
Subtract ten from that, and you would be right. Heh..

ToolBox
August 3rd 2005


26 Comments


My new favorite, perfect from beginning to end.



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