The Debut of the Year. Hands down.
The Arcade Fire - Crown of Love - Back in Late July, I recieved my promo copy of The Arcade Fire's Funeral. I recieved this by default, as a friend had no idea who the Arcade Fire are, and I - well, I was too covetous to even think of letting him in on the secret before I laid claim upon it as MINE. That night, I dashed off a quick e-mail to Sean (who has 2 more genius Arcade Fire tracks today), asking him if he knew the bands thoughts on the album. Turns out his copy was still en route - probably because he is in Canada - so I sent him this song. This is the response he sent me:
Keith, holymoly, it's like magic over here - something to believe in and something to dance to. The gliding strings, Win's vocals, arrow-to-heart. And then DRUMS, guitars that GROWL. I am desperate to hear it all all all.
He was right. This song is like magic. I've remarked in the past that someday, I think Connor Oberst is capable of a masterpiece. Well, Win Butler & Co. have beat him to it. This song is the masterpiece Oberst should have made. It opens tortured. Piano and acoustics. And Win. Always Win. If anything distinguishes Funeral from the band's Debut EP, it's Win's maturation as a vocalist - his ability to convincingly deliver the tortured chorus of this song, to sound utterly and completely devestated and devestating. There is pain here, and beauty, competing for the highest attentions. But the song slowly builds. On every chorus, new elements come in. Strings. Regine's backing vocals, moans in the distance. It sounds like something out of a 70's variety repretoire, complete with the psychotic disco strings at the end, but this is so much more - more honest, more raw, more confessional, more powerful than any of that. A fierce contender for the years best single.
The Arcade Fire - Neighborhood # 2 (Laika) - This song is part of the albums opening 4 part Neighborhood suite, and, more than any other track on the full length, manages to capture what made the EP work for me in the first place. The declamation in Win's vocals, when he shouts "If you want nothing! Don't ask for something!," the intertwining of Win and Regines vocals on choruses, sounding like (as I've referred to The Arcade Fire's vocals in the past) the howls of terrified children, grabbing hold of you by the collar, and staring straight into your face as they scream for their lives, like a scene from a horror movie. But the band is doing something with this song - moving away from that sound within a track. There's definite movement here. It opens with accordion, a sound which defined the EP, and a lo-fi, unproduced buzz hangs around the voclas, but by the end, Win and Regine are chanting about how "The Neighbors can dance in the disco police lights" (a disarmingly gorgeous lyric if ever there was one), and the keyboards are in full swing, and the production seems to have slowly become more and more crisp over a matter of minutes. Utterly beautiful, strikingly powerful, and terrifying in it's way. The Arcade Fire have arrived. Their debut full length will be out on Merge Records in a matter of weeks. Pre-order it now. Be cooler than all your friends. You HAVE been advised.
[Preorder Funeral on September 3rd from Merge Records]