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13th Sep 2015

REWIND – Funeral by Arcade Fire turns 11 this week, we rank the best 5 songs on a thrilling album

"I guess we’ll just have to adjust"

Paul Moore

“I guess we’ll just have to adjust”.

I’ll be honest, it’s rare that I remember exactly where I was when I hear a band for the very first time but in the case of Arcade Fire, it’s still extremely vivid.

I was standing in a mosh pit and eagerly awaiting the band to come stage.

The thing that I remember most about that U2 gig in Croke Park though wasn’t their extremely eclectic set-list that ranged from Boy to How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, but rather the song that they chose to walk onto the the stage.

86th Annual Academy Awards - Show

It was rousing and one of the most thrilling moments that I can recall in my recent music education. What made it odd though is that this song was from a band that I didn’t know and yet this epic guitar track that had violins, cellos and everything else imaginable had managed to burrow it’s way into my head and refuse to move.

There’s no exact reason why certain bands become more popular than others but I’ve a theory as to why the Win Butler led band became so beloved by audiences around the world.

arcade fire2

In many ways, the success of The Strokes’ stellar album Is This it? reinvigorated the alternative and indie scene. Jagged guitars and ripped jeans were back en vogue but this wasn’t always beneficial.

I absolutely adore guitar music but for every Bloc Party, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand or Kasabian that were reinvigorated by the success of The Strokes, there was a plethora of weaker albums from bands like Sum 41, Jet, The Paddingtons, The Pigeon Detectives and Dogs Die in Hot Cars that threatened to saturate the genre.

In my view, things were getting formulaic and stale but Funeral stood out because it was unlike anything else that was released at the time.

arcade fire

The theme of death, childhood frustration and detachment are prevalent on this shimmering opus but crucially, there’s an uplifting and life affirming feel to it also.

Violins, cellos, harps, percussions, xylophones, organs and every other instrument under the sun, all swirl around each other in the most perfect indie orchestra.  Here was a band whose ambitions weren’t just limited to garage rock, they had plans to play stadiums and the songs to fill them.

It’s a modern masterpiece because the band somehow managed to wake up the burgeoning indie sensibilities in a new generation of music lovers while also paying homage to the classic stadium rock appeal.

Here’s my 5 favourite tracks.


5) Neighborhood #2 (Laika)

I doubt that very people will dwell on the lyrics that recall the story of a dog that was shot into space by the USSR as an analogy for Win Butler’s musings on domestic abuse and a disintegrating childhood.

Who cares though when the guitars and percussion are almost as powerful as the singers angst filled vocals.

4) Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

A perfect track to open the album with because it perfectly sets up the themes and sounds that the band explore further.

Childhood tales, running away from home and teenage romance in the suburbs are all here. They’re all dreamers but unbeknownst to them, their dreams would come true.

3) Crown of Love

If you could split Funeral into two parts then Side-A is more concerned with where the band came from while Side-B is an indication of where their tastes would go.

That jolting dancefloor segment that kicks-in at the 3/4 mark is a good sign of the direction that they would take on Reflektor and elements of The Suburbs. I’m sure that the band would categorise this as one of their more important tracks on the album as it gave them scope to further pursue this mish-mash of styles.

2) Wake Up

A calling card, a jolt to the system and an instantly memorable track all-in-one. This is the type of song that deserves to be sung by every single person in an 80,000 stadium because it has the rare ability to send goosebumps down your spine.

1) Rebellion (Lies)

Those opening percussive thumps are one of those rare moments in music when one note can get your adrenaline pumping, however, the brilliance of this song is that it just builds and builds and builds.

Like a stroppy teenager that’s having ‘a moment’, Arcade Fire refused to be silenced or stunted on this tune as the levels of euphoria and angst reach a thrilling climax in that wonderful chorus of ‘Lies!, Lies’!’

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