Sept. 14, marks the 10th anniversary of Arcade Fire's classic debut album Funeral, whose sweeping, epic sound has proven to be a major inspiration on indie rock and even pop music in the last decade. In celebration of the anniversary of this incredible album, here are its ten songs ranked from weakest to strongest.
10. In The Backseat
It's pretty disappointing when an album ends on its weakest track but it's not as if "In The Backseat" is the weakest on Funeral by a huge margin or even a weak song at all. It's a beautiful track but whereas every other song on the album has some brilliant melodic hook, "In The Backseat" sort of floats along for six minutes without anything that immediately grabs you.
9. Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)
I know there are about 46 people in Arcade Fire but a part of me wishes that most of them had taken a step back for "Neighbohood #4 (7 Kettles)" and let Win Butler just be a guy with a guitar for a few minutes. It's the album's quietest song, but it could have been even quieter and more powerful if it was a stark, solo acoustic number.
8. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
One of the coolest elements of Funeral is the way that Arcade Fire was able to channel the urgency of post-punk through ornate baroque pop arrangements and no song on the album demonstrates this better than "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)." If Modest Mouse had access to a small orchestra, they'd write a song like this, which sounds a lot like a bigger, better-produced version of their 1997 song "Lounge (Closing Time)."
7. Une Année Sans Lumiére
Arcade Fire didn't go small very often, but based on "Une Année Sans Lumiére," it was pretty good at it. Though this is a brilliantly tidy and well-written track, perhaps my favorite part are the subtle background synthesizers, which sound like they were taken right from Born in the U.S.A. They should come off as incredibly dated, but they still work.
6. Crown of Love
It looks like I'm putting all of the album's ballads in the back half of this list, which wasn't intentional, but I guess I just prefer the more upbeat and urgent Arcade Fire tracks. Still, the best and most beautiful of these ballads is "Crown of Love," though the best part of the song is when it breaks out of ballad mode and takes on a sudden disco-flavored build-up in the last minute.
5. Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)
"Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)" is the shortest track on Funeral and likely its least melodic (at least vocally) but it shows a side of Arcade Fire that I wish it would delve into more often. In the song's third verse (starting around 1:44), a paranoid rush of guitars come crashing in, briefly giving the song an abrasive, almost no-wave edge that's pretty startling in such a lush, orchestral album.
One of two songs on Funeral to be sung by Régine Chassagne (the other being "In The Backseat"), "Haiti" may not have the album's most brilliant vocal melody but it makes up for this by boasting two of the album's most infectious instrumental melodies, both of which are played on top of each other much in the way the Cure used to layer melodies during its '80s peak.
3. Wake Up
"Wake Up" remains Arcade Fire's most famous song, which can be attributed to its wordless, larger-than-life chorus. It's the biggest moment on an album made up mostly of big moments, and the sort of melody that seems to transcend genres and even time itself, not unlike the extended coda at the end of "Hey Jude."
2. Rebellion (Lies)
Bono once referred to "Rebellion (Lies)" as a song that changed everything, alongside "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Fight The Power," "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "Heroes," "Sexual Healing," and "Like A Rolling Stone," which is pretty lofty praise but he's right. For better or for worse, Arcade Fire pioneered the sound we refer to today as "indie rock," and it all comes down to "Rebellion (Lies)," with its ethereal sound, anthemic group vocals, and propulsive dance beat. It's also an excellent representation of Arcade Fire's songwriting style, which is incredibly simple in terms of composition, yet dense when it comes to production and arrangement.
1. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
It feels wrong to say that an album's opening track is its strongest (especially when I've already said that its closing track is its weakest) but "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" is such an undeniably powerful and stirring song that I have no choice. Alongside Interpol's "Untitled" and LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean," this is probably the greatest album opener of this century so far, and has the best melodies and overall structural arc of any song on Funeral.
What are your favorite songs from Funeral? What did I get wrong? Let us know down in the comments section!