Review Summary: You don't need to appreciate Arcade Fire to enjoy this masterpiece.
Funeral is an intense sounding epic of an album: it's mournful and haunting, but still manages to be uplifting and superbly glorious. Nowadays, Arcade Fire is a major-label indie group, who gained massive attention with their third attempt, The Suburbs, and Neon Bible. But before all that, there was Arcade Fire: a debut that rivals hundreds after and before it: it's dramatic, brilliantly crafted, and it has a sense of awe and nostalgia throughout, you'd think it was from an experienced group's major label album.
But I've been trying to put my finger on what makes Arcade Fire's albums so likable.
Is it the dark sense of beauty throughout this soundscape of a debut? The instruments have an unparalleled sense of freedom to it: the infectious, yet beautiful guitar work, the exceptional pianos, and the moving, inspiring vocal beauty of Win Butler. It may be the fact that everyone can enjoy this album: the band ignites into every track, they're inspirational and a message flows through every song. Songs like "Wake Up" and the guitar-led "Rebellion (Lies)" are euphoric and emotionally precise, or the acoustic V7-sound / crashing drum beats / female vocals in "Haiti". That "just one more song" feeling turns into hours and evenings spent on listening to the scope of this album: it's far from rigidly consistent, and Arcade Fire is a perfect example of a group that has come into our lives and not know the impact they left. (Until now, of course, but...)
I've been asked whether Funeral is better than the two albums after it. It's hard to say. It's all about simplicity, yet a message that kills: this isn't a bad that gets out there and is trying to attack the genre scene: they're making a straightforward, yet utterly hopeful and rich. (Which brings me back to them not knowing the impact they truly left) Each one of their albums has done a great job of seeking a moral and showing it in the best way they can: Arcade Fire is one of the best examples of a calm after the storm, and there is no standout track, no centrepiece of the thrill of this piece of art.
Funeral is pure modern day poetry, despite not being picture perfect. Let's be honest, no album is ever perfect, is it? And compared to many albums before it, Funeral is a peaceful, yet euphoric debut that continues to please years after its impact. They're not trying to make anything happen here, not purposefully trying to smack the ball out of the park. It is a really beautiful album, one that feels more relaxing, one that creates a mental image some albums can not achieve through their overall mood, so Funeral comes closer than most. In fact, writing this review has got me itching to listen to "Wake Up" one last time. There's not a whole lot quite like it - excluding the obvious flaws - and it's a treat to listen to.
Arcade Fire - The AF EP
(This album has made more Top 10 lists than any album before it, and, according to an underground chart, has had the longest position at #1)