most. definitely. looking forward to it.
This song stands in an interesting contrast to other Arcade Fire songs. “Cold Wind” builds heavily on the same idea until the break in the middle. It has a harrowing effect. The main theme and melody of this song evokes loneliness that pierces straight into the heart. It seems so simple (indeed there may not be too much more needing to be said), and yet something just gets under my skin when I listen to this song. I feel utterly powerless against it. I think Arcade Fire distilled something very emotional in this song, perhaps better than they have with anything else so far. It’s uncertain and very lonely; it fits the imagery of driving down a desert road at night when the wind is cold to visit a loved one’s grave.
I’m actually sad to be leaving Arcade Fire. I listened to them so very much from 2005-2008 that it doesn’t really do the same for me anymore, but challenging myself to describe this music was a wonderful experience on many levels. I’m sure I’ll pick up Suburbs, but not immediately. The thing that prevented me from picking up Suburbs was this weird sort of inability to move forward with my Arcade Experience. I was so wrapped up in the progression of the EP to Neon Bible that I wasn’t willing to accept the new things I was hearing. Also contributing to my inability to pick up Suburbs was (a) people finally starting to become annoying about how much they love Arcade Fire and (b) I really didn’t dig the first few songs I heard. I’m sure it’s worth it to get over these things; I’ve heard that the new album is amazing. Still, my past experience with this band has been so fulfilling that I’m not really worried about moving onto their next album or not. Sure, it seems like it was a phase, but I don’t think that means anything bad about their music. I’m glad you all enjoyed these reviews so much in particular. I sure did!
Up next: Art Blakey, then Best of Art of Noise
I’m not sure anything about this album can surpass the sheer sonic force and splendor that Arcade Fire gives us. Where previous works evoke old houses with bittersweet memories in empty rooms, here Arcade Fire turns its heart to the sky and fills every inch of space with feeling. Listened to right after Funeral or Arcade Fire EP, the opening track “Black Mirror” sounds like it is meant to shake the dust from the rafters.
Many times, you can hear Arcade Fire redefining itself. In “Keep the Car Running”, the band sheds its conventional indie cocoon with a rock-oriented song that evokes more Bruce Springsteen than (I’m too lazy to think of an appropriate indie band reference; you’re probably better at it than I am, so go to town). “Ocean of Noise” starts off with a dark setting that almost seems smug, but paints a beautiful, terrible picture of an quietly uncontrollable storm. The closing section of this song must be experienced with good speakers, high volume, and your favorite drink. I’m very serious about this. “Black Wave/Bad Vibrations” turns the beat changing device (used in Funeral) in a new direction. Here, the switch occurs at the very center, and it is there to make your feelings hit the brakes to be tugged from hope to terror, uncertainty, and power. This song has a profound effect on me: on my mood, on the way I feel and look at things when I’m listening. The powerful, distorted baritone guitar ties the two sections together, but that just makes it all the more terrifying.
“Intervention” still stands as the centerpiece of the album for me. The organ used in the intro seems to make a statement of grandeur larger than this band can live up to. If not for the climax of the song, I don’t think it could. Stick around for the chorus (not the song structure, but the group of singers). They way it melds with Regine’s voice provides the answer to the question posed by the intro, if you will. As an Arcade Fire fan, the re-recording of “No Cars Go!” holds a special place in my heart. It’s a nice companion piece to the old version, and it is the one point in the album that speaks to the hope and release at which the rest of the album can only hint. I’m not sure if the album would be more interesting without this song or if it would completely fall apart under the weight of the world that this band sometimes seems to be putting on its shoulders. In all honestly, I think it is a bit of “emotional sherbet”, something meant to cleanse the pallet before you head into the final song, “My Body is a Cage”, which takes you into deeper places of fear and emotional chaos than anywhere else on this album.
At the end of the day, I love a lot more of the individual tracks on this album than I did on Funeral, but Neon Bible doesn’t make the same kind of emotional journey that Funeral does. It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride, like the part where the phoenix rises out of the flames, but only the part that’s completely on fire. That being said, the feelings and emotions that this album runs through are a bit hodge-podge. Again, I think the best attribute is the wonderful, wonderful sound that this band produced. It can capture you, if you let it, and take you many wonderful (if at times terrible) places.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Please take a second to recommend me for Tumblr Tuesday! If you’ve already made your pick, please tell your friends about my blog! More importantly, send me comments about any thoughts you have on my words. Soon: my review for Neon Bible.
Make sure to pick my blog, and label it as music!
if you try to steal the beat
the beat will steal you
I buy it. I don’t download. I know it’s nigh impossible to get knicked, I just don’t want to take the chance. In law school, you know.
thank you very much! i was really having trouble getting all of that out. i just looked at your blog, i find everything very interesting, and am eager to explore it!
Lord have mercy, my first reblog! Thanks willdrewreviews! I’ll be sure to reblog your review of The Suburbs, seeing as how I haven’t gotten around to obtaining that album, and have no money.
Prologue: If I am not careful, I will simply do nothing but gush with joy throughout this album review, and it would be as disturbing as it sounds when you read it out loud.
Funeral is the first I ever heard of Arcade Fire, and I don’t know if anything else they do will be able to measure up to it in my mind. That being said, I’ll be on my way; I’ll try and be reasonably objective, or at least usefully descriptive, about it.
Funeral opens with a little number called “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”, which is by and far my favorite Arcade Fire track. Every musical voice melds together into one grand medium that almost seems ill-contained in only one media format. This song is really where Arcade Fire best transcends the common multi-instrumental identity of this era. Usually, it sounds really great (to okay, to bad, it depends) to have each quirky instrument give its own bit to the sound of a band or of a song. Here, on the other hand, the voices act in perfect concert. Consider the opening seconds of this song. The strings, twinkling piano, and reverberated guitar create a starry and snowy background in a way that de-emphasizes the distinction between each instrument.
The next two songs finish up the wonderfully effective High Fidelity rule: start out strong, continue stronger with the next song, and then cut to a softer song.
“Neighborhood #2 (Laika)” turns the intense serenity of the first song upside down with surprising force. “Une Anne Sans Lumiere” seems to be a catchy pop song of the day with some interesting instrumental nooks and crannies and some Dali-esque mixture of French and English. However, Arcade Fire livens it up with an interesting tempo change that has become a signature of their sound (to me, anyways).
The most interesting songs confused me at first. “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” hit me in the face with a hodgepodge of the same instruments you’ve been hearing transformed into a wave of force. “Haiti” seemed like a misguided attempt at a Caribbean theme, but it really hit my heart when I gave the lyrics a closer listen. Another tempo change, this time in “Crown of Love”, first hit me as a weird disco vehicle, but I later realized that it fully illustrates the passion that the band exudes in the last half of the song. The final track, “In the Backseat”, ends on a powerful and mysterious note. Singer Regine Chassagne shows off her vocal strength (imperfections and all) that make her stand out as a female vocalist, despite being one of many that sound a lot like Bjork.
This album is about growing up, and it works on many levels. I can’t point out anything done perfectly on this album (many of the string arrangements leave much to be desired), but that’s completely besides that point. I believe that this Arcade Fire album expresses more pain than hope: the pain of adjusting to new surroundings and the loss of old concepts that used to define oneself completely. You can find this pain in the simple subject matter of the lyrics, in the pleading sorrow of the music, and even in the sometimes uncomfortable instrumental arrangements. Thus, this isn’t necessarily an album that will sweep you off of your feet at your first listen. If you gave this a go and didn’t like it, I really think you should give it another. If this album were to be done with you the very first time you listened to it, I wouldn’t dare call it a great album.
I do so dare. 5 out of 5 stars, because even Funeral’s greatest weaknesses work so well towards its inner soul.
Next time: Neon Bible
i just realized that last.fm barely has any of the tracks on it :( but i guess you can still get the gist of it!
Trying to finish Arcade Fire Funeral review
Distracted by massive amounts of King Crimson, Genesis, Frank Zappa, Gentle Giant recently acquired.
Thanks everyone for not un-following me!
Oooook. I’m all rested up and ready to get back into this writing gig. I am eschewing the song by-song structure. Sometimes an album will have a song or two about which I fail to care, and I see no reason to spend time hung up on finding things to say about such songs. So, I’m going to finish the Arcade Fire EP quickly and move on. Sorry to have taken so long!
While pretty good by itself, this album is most interesting when thought of as a part of this band’s musical journey. Arcade Fire deals in the emotions of growing older and losing the concept of “home”. When you think about it, this theme can give rise to a nigh-infinite range of emotions: from happiness to sadness, from tranquility to rage. Considering that, it’s impressive that Arcade Fire touches on each of these spectrums’ ends while still refining a consistent sound at this early stage.
Still, Arcade Fire seems to have been refining its ability to let these songs fall into place. “Vampire/Forest Fire” is a good denouement to the album. It starts off with the slightly rustic sound Arcade Fire favored on this EP. The first movement ends, and the song enters the woods, lost, until the song finds providence for my favorite part of the entire EP. It’s a great ending, and probably the best indicator of what is to come with the band (in a chronological sense). And again, the final movement of the song means so much more after the foggy, wayward middle part makes the final movement stand out so sharply. This is song structure that tells a story, people. It helps raise these songs above the limitations in production value and band experience. Because Arcade Fire writes such interesting songs, you have to really listen to find the flaws. These flaws otherwise cease to matter, which to me is an indication that the songs take on lives of their own.
I’ll save my thoughts about Arcade Fire as a whole for later. However, it seems important to note that many bands use this kind of instrumentation. Many bands fall short of Arcade Fire, despite using the same instruments, because their songs go through the same motions we have heard all of our lives. Arcade Fire, on the other hand, go into whatever kind of mode they need to go into in order to put each album together. More on this with their next, and my favorite, album: Funerals.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Thanks to those of you who stuck with me. It was sad to be away for so long. I hope you can all bear with me the next time another break inevitably happens.