For me, there isn’t a band making music these days much better than the Arcade Fire. Today I’m choosing to discuss the elevation and the concepts of the first 3 albums. This won’t be an indepth, song by song comparison, just a stream of consciousness opinion piece on the themes, discussed in their music.
It seems so long ago that Funeral came out. At first I’m sure you could understand how people would offhandedly think this was just another indie band with no actual substance. You would be wrong. The first think I remember falling in love with on the first record was Win’s voice. By no means the best, most classic voice, but it manages to bring a sense of honesty and pureness that wasn’t very prevalent back in the years of 2005. The music of the first album sets the tone, both musically and thematically of young adults waking up to a world where the future isn’t bright and optimistic as it once was. Songs like ‘Wake Up’ and ‘In the back Seat’ revisit the careless and youthful positivity of an adolescent mind. You’re raised to think anything is possible, but more and more as an adult you may feel as though the whole game is rigged but powers bigger than you.
Neon Bible might be the least popular album so far by this Canadian ensemble, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. The grief on the album, and the mood set by recording in a church is palpable from the first notes and the obvious undertones of Black Mirror. If Funeral was about the death of the childhood hopefulness, Neon Bible is about the aftermath of continuing to do the best you can as people slowly begin to lose hope. ‘Intervention’ is one of the most powerful songs on the whole record. The line ‘ Your still a soldier in your mind but nothing’s on the line’ is the perfect ” Too long didn’t read” for this album. More than the first album, this record delves into the clearly hypocritical world of religion, not spirituality, but the oppression brought upon by organized religion. The use of the organ’s and just the overall feeling of being in a confined church drive every single song. ‘ My body is a cage ‘ ends the album on a powerful, slightly hopeful view of the future. Once again the honesty in Win’s voice makes you understand the pain and torment he’s feeling. This album came out three years after the first album, and you get the vague sense that they knew what they were doing, but they just weren’t given enough time. I read once that the second album is the most difficult to make. You have your whole life to make your first album, but only a few years to make the second, yet in a sense or irony its the most important, because anyone can make one great album, but if you don’t keep it up you could be forgotten along with all the other bands who made that one great album. Thankfully that didn’t happen.
Suburbs yet again came three years the previous release. Now, because of the huge success of Funeral, at this point the Arcade Fire were able to not tour as relentlessly as they had. The lack of touring for three years for Neon Bible gave them more time to perfectly figure out how to craft what is easily the best record they’ve created so far, the Suburbs. I honestly think this might be the best record I’ve ever heard. Almost three years after it’s release it’s still hardly an effort to listen to the whole thing in one sitting. They perfectly paint a world were the once youthful excitedness gives way to the sense that our dreams have been lost to the rough expectations of reality. We all aren’t going to be amazing people. and that realization is a difficult one to swallow. You feel for the person trying to make ends meet in ‘Modern Man’ and you view the young hipsters in ‘ Rococo’ with the same disdain and resentfulness that the previous generation viewed you and your friends with. The idea for the same lyrics and themes in different songs also helps make the record much more cohesive, and further helps make the album feel less like an album but one full piece of commentary on the times we’re living in. I mean honestly, have you heard a more forceful, kick ass song than Month of May. The first few tracks of the album jump out at you and then you find a nice, wonderful groove for the middle section of the album, but Month of May hits you when you least expect it, and the electricity and immediacy of the song is gone as swift as it came, but after the boat keeps going, having made it through the worst storm of all. This will be the album in years to come that everything else will be compared to much in the same way Radiohead’s Kid A was. Or maybe, this band is just hitting its stride and the next album will be better than all of the first three albums. I can’t wait to see.