Saturday, February 5, 2011

Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)

I should have started the double feature a long time ago, because now I kind of feel like I’m stating the obvious, The Arcade Fire – “Funeral,” is a really good album. In January 2008 I reviewed Arcade Fire – “No Cars Go,” I wanted to talk about “Funeral” but “Neon Bible” had just come out and it felt more relevant to talk about that album. Now I know I should have done both, because that’s what I’m doing now.

For those of you who live under a rock “Funeral” is one of the best albums to come out in the last twenty years. In a rare moment of human intelligence it is actually agreed upon by many that The Arcade Fire is an amazing musical group, critics love them, they have a very strong fan base, and they are winning awards all the time. Rarely both the critics and the popular consensus get it right, but they seem to have pulled through this one time.

So what is there for me to say really, Arcade Fire are awesome? You should already know that.

Arcade Fire’s first album “Funeral” was a true masterpiece, their best album to date in my opinion. Rich with fantastic musical content, but also tell something of a narrative from song to song. There is something beautiful about the childlike imagination that goes into albums like “Funeral” that I truly adore. What if a snowstorm caused the end of the world, killing off all the parents, leaving only the children to rebuild? They would delight in the freedom and winter fun at first, and slowly realize the gravity of the situation. It’s a lot of heavy ideas especially when considered from the point of view of children, would they really appreciate what had happened, and when things got ugly in the post-apocalyptic society how would they cope? Well listen to the album and find out. You can appreciate the inspiration for the album from lead man Edwin (Win) Butler, being from Texas, where I’m sure he never fit in, moving to Montreal, and seeing snow for the first time, he may have thought, “Holy crap this could destroy civilization!”

It’s hard to pick a favourite song from the album since, they are all so good, and also, the songs flowing from one another creates a connection between songs making them harder to disassociate. Like any great story you need an intriguing beginning, “Neighbourhood #1,” and climatic middle, “Rebellion (Lies),” and a gripping end, “The Backseat.” I could just as easily do three music in reviews dissecting each song, but for the sake of your reading convenience I’ll pick just one. While I have always believed in breaking traditional story telling habits and feel a strong end is the most important part of your story (leave them wanting more right?) it is much easier to pick the middle in this example, the classic climax of any story, and also there is less back story to absorb.

“Rebellion (Lies)” stands alone fairly well, as it is a song that is about death and loss in general, rather than any particular specific death or loss. Opening lyrics “Sleeping is giving in, no matter what the time is. Sleeping is giving in, so lift those heavy eyelids.” I challenge you to find a more poetic way to say “don’t die.” Of course the song takes on a whole new level of significance once you remember the setting, children coming to terms with death. Another lyric I particular like is the chorus “Every time you close your eyes (lies lies)” there could be something being said about objective reality there, I have felt for a very long time children (and idiots) struggle to differentiate dreams from reality, the appeal to believe our dreams are more than just images in our heads but really real exists, but it takes some measure of maturity to accept waking life as rigid reality.

“Funeral” is a great album we are all richer for it.

Until tomorrow, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly

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