Record #16: Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)

When I moved to Chicago, I lived with one of the most elitist people I have ever known. He had a collection of over 2500 records, listened to mostly krautrock, post-punk, and no-wave, and he was very proud to hate the Beatles and Radiohead both. I overheard him once describing my musical taste. “He likes stupid indie rock shit like Arcade Fire,” he said. “Gay hipster music like that.”

And let it be known, he had never heard Arcade Fire in his life.

One day, I gave Funeral a spin. A couple minutes in, he said, “this is good. Who is it?”
“Arcade Fire.”
“What?”
“Yeah.”
“But it’s…” he paused.
“Good?” I suggested.
“Yeah! I really like the stop-start drums. It’s real post-punkish.”
“I know.”

As the record turned, he continued to comment about how much he was enjoying it, and I said nothing, satisfied (there are similar stories that end with him wincing for a while, and then stating, “I don’t want to like Beatles/Radiohead. But they’re so good.”).

At the end of the day, that’s one of the only things there is to say about Funeral. It’s not very groundbreaking–—ndie rock anthems with accordions and violins had been done before, and lyrically capturing adolescence is indie rock 101—it’s just good (keep in mind that David Bowie himself was a huge fun from the beginning). And Arcade Fire managed to pull off great indie rock with more obtuse sincerity and consistency (Funeral is only the first of three consecutive home run records) than many who had gone before or have since come.

In the grand scope of their expanded catalog, its easy to pass Funeral off as little more than a twinkle in bandleader Win Butler’s eye that would bloom into a true masterpiece, but listen to Funeral again and you’ll be reminded that it is a masterpiece in its own right.

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