The harsh, beautiful fever of a love story, a death story and a life story entwine the core of The Arcade Fire’s music. These stories chorus and flow powerfully through the coming-of-age neighborhoods of grief, heartbreaking realizations and the knowledge that at some point, we have to grow up. Simply put, these are the stories that connect all of us as humans. Wife-and-husband team RÇgine Chassagne and Win Butler have made into music what most of us can only put into vaguely metaphoric words: life. Their debut album, Funeral, offers dedications to recent deaths of friends and family.
From the guttural howl of vocals, to the meeting of your childhood sweetheart in tunnels while your parents cry in their bedroom, to the heavy dilation of guitars and drums, “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” is one of those songs that makes you feel like something inside of you is breaking into pieces.
Dominant slices of jittery guitar explosion reign in “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out),” nearly crushing “Neighborhood #2 (Laika)’s” distant haze of drums and xylophone. The exquisiteness of “Une AnnÇe Sans Lumiere” and “Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)” follow suit with the calm force of acoustic guitars and violins, all loneliness and mountains and waiting. The quick swallows of piano, guitars and strings push the saddest sweetness of “Crown of Love” across time, while Win Butler wails, “I carved your name across my eyelids. . ./You pray for rain, I pray for blindness” and “My love keeps growing/Still the same, just like a cancer.” The bombastic rush of “Wake Up” redeems the unfortunate disco-break in “Crown of Love.”
By far the most heartbreaking and realistic song on the album, “Wake Up” sings, “Somethin’ filled up my heart with nothin’/Someone told me not to cry/But now that I’m older, my heart’s colder/And I can see that it’s a lie.”
If you’ve already had the opportunity to hear Funeral, you know the sheer power and emotional intensity that resonates from each one of the tracks. If not, The Arcade Fire’s Funeral might just be the album that provides words and echoes for the spaces in your mind.