Arcade Fire
Funeral


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
September 27th, 2010 | 139 replies | 9,004 views


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A beautiful musical opus that transcends its surface meaning with moments of both heart-wrenching tragedy and uplifting encouragement.

By now, if you haven’t at least heard of Arcade Fire, chances are you don’t listen to very much music. They have taken the world by storm with their unique approach to composing songs and writing lyrics, all the while making it sound smooth and effortless. Over the course of the decade, they have paid their dues; now they stand near the top of the ladder of respected artists and deservedly so. Funeral marks the beginning of Arcade Fire’s meteoric rise to fame, one that occurred rapidly and can be majorly attributed to their efforts on this very album.

Funeral is an ironic title for a debut album, as a band’s initial release should symbolize the unveiling of an endless realm of possibilities, or an infinite scope of ascertainable dreams. The closed-off, blunt nature of the title actually comes from an extraordinarily unfortunate sequence of tragic events that struck the families of the band members during the album’s creation. The raw emotion stemming from these events can be felt in every crack of Win Butler’s voice, as well as in the sweeping violins of the downtrodden “Crown of Love.” At no point, however, does Funeral become a plea for the listener’s sympathy. Each song is conveyed with utmost confidence, as the anthemic production, mezmerizing instrumentation, and relatable, sing-along choruses provide an open invitation for listeners to embrace every aspect of Funeral. “Wake Up” is actually quite a depressing song, with sad introspective lyrics like, “Somethin’ filled up my heart with nothin’, someone told me not to cry” and “but now that I’m older, my heart’s colder, and I can see that it’s a lie.” However, as per the nature of the album, you would never know it from the sound alone. The song kicks off with a beautifully harmonized sequence of ahh ah’s, harps, and clashing cymbals. The song has a larger-than-life feel to it which, especially upon the first couple of listens, packs a punch harder than anything Arcade Fire has ever done. Overall, “Wake Up”, just like the overriding portions of Funeral, takes the sad/deeply brooding tones of Win Butler and provides them with a contrasting instrumental sense of uplifting, inconspicuous optimism.

It is also in this way that Arcade Fire builds a natural flow and progression from one song to the next. “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”, which begins with some carefully played atmospheric piano notes, gradually picks up the pace until it turns into a fast-tempo indie rocker. That segways straight into the upbeat “Neighborhood #2 (Laika)” which continues to show Arcade Fire’s pension for making emotionally charged music with one hundred percent enthusiasm and energy. In fact, the band doesn’t seem to hold back at all on Funeral, both in terms of effort and intentions. From the get-go it is clear that Arcade Fire wants this album to be huge. Everything about the album screams “epic”, and every track on the record is over-the-top by nature. Excluding the more reserved “Une Annee Sans Lumiere” (which is yet another highlight on an album that is absolutely packed with them), and perhaps also “Haiti”, Funeral is a nonstop march through triumphant, glorious sounding musical opuses that all have the same intention: to be the best song that you have ever heard. While each one may come damn close to achieving that goal, they also leave you with few moments to catch your breath, something that takes away from the emotional and instrumental progression towards climactic peaks. Instead, what you have is a ceaseless bid for perfection. At times this may cause the best tracks on the album to lose their luster (especially after several listens). But then again, without Arcade Fire’s limitless ambition, we would be left without most endearing traits that compose Funeral. With songs like “Rebellion (Lies)” and “In the Backseat” anchoring the latter portion of the album, Funeral is (dare I say) flawless from start to finish.

Funeral overflows with all the things an album needs to be a phenomenal listen. It is brimming with grandeur. It radiates a sense of triumph while harboring tragic undertones by way of the lyrics, thus working on two emotional levels. It confidently brings several new concepts to the table, while molding and reconstructing any rehashed ideas until they sound fresh and personalized. All these things it does in one tidy, ten song album that could easily be considered among the greatest debuts of any musical act in history. Funeral provided the foundation for one of the best bands of our generation, and one would be foolish not to give this the time and attention that it so richly deserves.



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user ratings (3135)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2010


15975 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

It has only been 5 days between my last review and this, and it (hopefully) isn't obvious, but I have been going through a severe case of writer's block. Any pointers would be appreciated.

This album has always been a favorite of mine, and I have really been into it as of late.

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

Spec
September 27th 2010


27167 Comments


Good review brah.

patroneyes
September 27th 2010


1919 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good

Gyromania
September 27th 2010


15685 Comments


Great work SS. Have a pos

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2010


15975 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thanks guys, and it looks like a 4.5 is right around the consensus

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2010


7266 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Writer's block? LIES!!! =)

A pos to you.

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2010


15975 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

someguest: that's surprising, i know the suburbs is newer, but funeral has much higher replay value imo. i actually feel like the band has gotten progressively worse: funeral 4.5 > neon bible 4 > suburbs 3.5

irving: thanks haha, although it is true. not sure if this review got me back on track or not, i guess time will tell

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2010


15975 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thats true i suppose...i really like the title track off the suburbs, but the album as a whole is kind of hit-or-miss for me. granted, it still hits more often than not, hence the 3.5

Slum
September 28th 2010


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Review is quite good as per usual, Sowing. And yeah writer's block is terrible, I haven't had the desire to write for weeks.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
September 28th 2010


7026 Comments


In the Backseat is easily the best to me.

Digging: Perfume Genius - Too Bright

couldwinarabbit
September 28th 2010


6996 Comments


@Lucidity agreed.


This is a five. Though I like Neon Bible just as much. It doesn't have as nice a flow but I think it has better songs.

Ire
September 28th 2010


41763 Comments


Great review man. I have this but I just haven't found the time for this yet.

Asiatic667
September 28th 2010


4648 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I wish I'd given this more than a couple of spins. I remember In The Backseat was quite breathtaking

couldwinarabbit
September 28th 2010


6996 Comments


@Ire that's cause your current dig takes far to long to get dug.

NeutralThunder12
September 28th 2010


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review. I liked this a lot at one point, enough for a 4.5, but it quickly grew off of me. It's still great though. Pos

Romulus
September 28th 2010


8434 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review Sowing, album is by far my favorite Arcade Fire. not like that's a unique a opinion or anything

Transient
September 28th 2010


1461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lrn2adjectives dude. what separates most of the staff from the users is their ability to say what they want and make it sound effortless, and they can do this mostly because they have relatively large vocabularies. some of the ways you've worded stuff just sounds like you're trying to make it sound grandiose when there are numerous ways you could've said the same thing but in a far more readable way. idk if that makes sense, but whatever. it's a good review, don't get me wrong, it's just... you can kind of tell you're trying really hard or that it's not flowing really well?

Foxhound
September 28th 2010


4570 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

beefy review. wish i could dl this again, i know i'd be more into this if i took more time with it some songs are amazing.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2010


15975 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

transient: i appreciate what you are saying...i probably was trying a little too hard, because I have been having a tough time getting through writer's block for the past few days. don't get me wrong, i wasn't sitting by the thesauras, but i probably made this more complicated than it needs to be. thanks again for the feedback

foxhound: you def should, it isn't everyone's cup of tea but it is worth multiple listens

Foxhound
September 28th 2010


4570 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really like the concept. I just don't have an ipod anymore to listen to it which sucks.



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