Funeral is the beating heart of adolescence, a journey of affection that voices the struggle of coming to terms with growing up. Childhood, and its eventual extension, is bound together by moments that often define a person, for better or worse, which Funeral exemplifies to great effect. It is beautifully intense, oftentimes emotionally draining, yet manages to be uniquely joyous amid its drama.
“Crown of Love”, for example, is a gorgeous ballad appearing to channel the inner dejection of its character, only to then transform into an dance track of real elegance. More than once Arcade Fire subvert expectations in this way, using their songs’ musical climaxes as reflective metaphors of emotion. The exaggerated romanticism that shapes Funeral in this manner can easily see off those who aren’t daring enough to look inside their own past; to accept and understand the events that, like it or not, have defined us as human beings.
In this sense, Arcade Fire show the deepest ambition of all. It could have soared away into a fantasy, but Funeral keeps its feet firmly rooted on the ground. “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” plays out like the thumping beat of an adolescent heart, whilst the outstanding “Wake Up” reflects on all that precedes it, coming to the conclusion that, ‘Children don’t grow up/our bodies get bigger and our minds get torn up.’
Also deserving of mention is “In The Backseat”, a fitting end to a quite beautiful piece of work. Funeral is a wonderful record that should really be exposed to anyone with an ounce of sentimentality in regards to their youth. It’s quite possibly the most human record of the 21st century.
9 out of 10
I like Funeral very much. It delves into formative aspects of life with candidness and fervour, and is quite disarming as a result. Oftentimes the most appropriate reaction to death — literal or figurative — is a heightened awareness of the vividness and beauty of life. Arcade Fire’s debut album has its eyes open wide, and observes a great deal.
Wielding an appropriately jumbled, eclectic sound, the album places the subtleties of youth and innocence and growing up and watching those things slip away at centre stage. I daren’t highlight any one track, as the work flows in a way that sees their impact change depending on one’s mood. You get what you bring to Funeral; the album just coaxes it out, falling together in a way that feels completely natural and familiar. It’s a specialised taste, but not an alien one.
We’ve all been where Funeral is, recognise the sounds of its clumsy and pure vaudeville sadness. It preserves a rich and varied time of life, and I’m glad to have been introduced to it. Although I can’t say I’m immensely moved by Funeral, because I’m a monster, there is no denying it is a delicate and timeless treasure.
8 out of 10
Twelve years on, Arcade Fire’s debut album still sounds fresh and exciting to me. The instrumentation across the album expands outwards from a standard rock band set up at its core, adding synths, organs, percussion of many varieties, a whole string section, recorders and more into the mix. It makes for a rich, distinctive, and positive sound for the whole album, which could easily mask its less positive lyrical content, providing powerful imagery to convey despair and mourning, realising the inevitability of time passing and maturing through making mistakes — to note a few interesting lyrical moments.
With all that said, it’d be wrong to call Funeral unique for its instrumentation or emotive lyrics, but what makes this album stand out from many others is the honesty in all the songwriting. Win Butler and Regine Chassagne will no doubt have struck a chord with many listeners hearing his lyrics, and the unabashed instrumental writing, as fantastical and elaborate as it does become, has the ability to overwhelm the listener with its size. Funeral is a remarkable, essential album in any music collection, and my fondness for it has only grown the longer I’ve spent with it.
9 out of 10