Album: The Arcade Fire

Funeral, ROUGH TRADE
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The Independent Culture

Hailing from Montreal, The Arcade Fire are a quintet fronted by the husband-and-wife team of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, whose nuptials offered a counterpoint of sorts to the deaths of several relatives whose departure furnished their debut album with its unpromising title. But as if forced to the creative brink by such a succession of sadness, Funeral finds them delving into some very odd corners indeed, particularly in the four-part "Neighbourhood" suite which appears to involve a fantasy about children living in the snow, apart from their parents, developing without adult input during a prolonged power cut. With keening violins well to the fore, the band's dense, layered sound has certain similarities with that of their fellow Canucks, The Hidden Cameras, only without the gay-sex references; a more helpful comparison might be with neo-psychedelic whimsicalists such as The Olivia Tremor Control and The Flaming Lips. The inevitability of ageing is the album's underlying theme, with

Hailing from Montreal, The Arcade Fire are a quintet fronted by the husband-and-wife team of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, whose nuptials offered a counterpoint of sorts to the deaths of several relatives whose departure furnished their debut album with its unpromising title. But as if forced to the creative brink by such a succession of sadness, Funeral finds them delving into some very odd corners indeed, particularly in the four-part "Neighbourhood" suite which appears to involve a fantasy about children living in the snow, apart from their parents, developing without adult input during a prolonged power cut. With keening violins well to the fore, the band's dense, layered sound has certain similarities with that of their fellow Canucks, The Hidden Cameras, only without the gay-sex references; a more helpful comparison might be with neo-psychedelic whimsicalists such as The Olivia Tremor Control and The Flaming Lips. The inevitability of ageing is the album's underlying theme, with "flowers growing on the grave of our love" in "Crown of Love", and Butler observing how "now that I'm older, my heart [is] colder" in "Wake Up". An engaging debut, albeit less than the masterpiece as which it has been hailed in some quarters.

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