The 2004 release of the critically acclaimed Funeral marked Arcade Fire as one of the most exciting and ambitious bands of the decade. Their debut studio album was released to almost unanimous critical acclaim, as well as receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album.
Stylistically, the album blends a broad range of musical styles, from its use of chamber-pop melodies to its driven, art-rock guitar riffs. Funeral is also a lyrical masterpiece. It’s cathartic and uplifting, even while evoking the feelings of sickness and mourning from which the album derives its name. This album effortlessly swings between the simple and the theatrical – it’s warming and nostalgic and its lush soundscapes are simply mesmerizing. In other words, it deserves every ounce of gushing praise offered it.
Neon Bible, the band’s sophomore studio release, is just as monolithic. While some criticize the album as being excessively grandiose, the album’s extravagant nature is a necessary complement to the band’s inspired attempt to reflect the darkness and turmoil of our times. The lyrics of Neon Bible are much more pointed and hostile than Funeral, criticizing mass-produced Christianity and mega-churches.
Sonically, the album represents a more experimental attempt at songwriting. The album was recorded in a remodeled church in Canada, incorporating instruments from hurdy-gurdies to Hungarian orchestras, a military choir to a Mormon Tabernacle-style pipe organ. With its stabbing social commentary, Neon Bible shows that Arcade Fire doesn’t shirk from their commitment to accomplish monumental tasks with their records.
Last year, they officially cemented their position atop the indie-rock throne with the release of The Suburbs, breaking all barriers with a universally successfully album winning 2010’s Grammy for Album of the Year. The album makes a departure from the often far-too-grave tone of Neon Bible, going instead back into the honesty and warmth of Funeral.
Listening to Funeral forces one to relive the weariness of growing up in the confines of the suburbs, longing for an escape to a dream world of secrets and juvenile misbehaviors. The Suburbs, on the other hand, is more like returning to that neighborhood of your childhood, now numbed by the fruitless routine of adulthood. There is a longing to have it all back, to relive all of those wasted hours of childhood –but then one realizes: Everything has changed. The houses, the streets, nothing is the same. Then it hits:
“The emotions are dead/It’s no wonder that you feel so estranged.”
Arcade Fire will be performing at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, April 11 at the UCCU Center. Opening for the Arcade Fire is Los Angelesbased freak-folk artists Local Natives. Tickets for the performance are $35 for the Lower Bowl and $40 for GA Floor tickets. This is one performance not to be missed.