Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Funeral – Arcade Fire


It was a Friday evening about to be lost to the onset of nightfall and the encroachment of slumber. The telly buzzed away in the corner but I had lost consciousness of it. Another uneventful week of work, sleep, work, sleep. Something awakened me. Jools Holland was doing his usual camera pan around the BBC2 studio, babbling some inaudible niceties about the Foo Fighters before rising to an excited tone – ‘ARCADE FIRE’. I slumped in my chair and began to open troubled eyelids. Six minutes later I was caught up in some sort of musical trance. A flurry of people, playing an array of instruments filled the screen and they produced an amount of energy that seemed explosive. I worried for the overheated element in the back of my TV. It survived and three months later I cursed my luck at missing out on an Electric Picnic [Editor’s note: Music festival in Ireland], which featured Arcade Fire.

An electric setting seemed eerily apt for this group. Their first album is called Funeral and there’s an interesting tale in the title, but, if it were revealed now, you’d be put off listening to the music. It’s as incidental as it is interesting and in the sphere of an album review it’s best left hovering in another realm awaiting discovery. The music of this band is enough to infuse the human body for the moment. If ever music seemed as addictive as a narcotic then this album is intoxicating. Not since listening to Tomorrow Never Knows on the Beatles Revolver opus have I been so transfixed by one song and yet Funeral succeeds in producing a number of songs in that vein.

In fact it took me two months before I discovered the second half of this album. I once recall a review of The Joshua Tree, where the reviewer had been afraid to listen past the first three songs, so mind blowing was the combination of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Where The Streets Have No Name and With Or Without You. One song had me in raptures for weeks. The song that I heard on Jools Holland that night was Neighbourhood#3 (Power Out). It is so good that to call it a song or a number would be to do it a disservice. It is something greater than that. It’s an emotion, a fusion of unbridled joy and incredible energy that builds and builds and leaves you willing it to go on forever. Everyday for two months I played it leaving work and bounded down the street buoyed by the exuberance of finishing work and the ecstasy of a sound that transported me somewhere away from the confines of Baggot Street Bridge and Grand Canal Dock D.A.R.T. station. The recurrent tardiness of Irish Rail meant more joy than frustration at times. As Neighbourhood #3 intoxicates, the other three songs with the same title keep you sufficiently high while the onset of Une Annee Sans Lumier brings you to another peak of desire as it bursts through the dam of its own self-perpetuating slow burn vigour.

Rebellion (Lies) is the latter half of the album that took me two months to reach. It is like no other piece of music and in the way Neighbourhood seduced me the first time, I was swept from my feet again. There is something mystical in it, a pounding beat that resonates with your pulse. The final track takes you down from a high, and as the tempo slows the haunting strain of Régine Chassagne’s voice seeps through the muddied waters of a come down. It succeeds in making you want for more and that alone is an achievement worthy of being sung from the rooftops.

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