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The Essential Arcade Fire

By ; August 2, 2012 at 12:35 PM 

15: Intervention – Neon Bible

With heavy church organs and even heavier lyrics — “Working for the church as your family dies” — “Intervention” chugs along, gaining steady momentum before transforming into a grandiose call-and-response between Butler and a Chassagne-led choir. It may be too much for some but it takes brazen confidence to write a song of this magnitude.

14: Haiti – Funeral

The first Chassagne-led song on the list, “Haiti,” may sound upbeat at first, but the lyrics reveal a melancholy side: “In the forest we lie hiding, unmarked graves where flowers grow.” Chassagne leads the song — in French and English — with her hazy, dreamlike voice. While Funeral might conjure up a brisk Canadian winter, on “Haiti,” you can feel the sun against your neck. Adding to the warm sound are steel drums that meld perfectly on the track, a shining example of how Arcade Fire can use non-traditional rock instruments while not sounding forced or gimmicky.

13: My Body Is A Cage – Neon Bible

This is as grandiose as Arcade Fire gets. Sinister church organ broods over the track that gets bigger and bigger with each note before crashing in a cacophony of sound. Butler’s lyrics are dark; he utters, “I’m standing on a stage of fear and self-doubt.” Even so, only a confident band could pull of a song of this size. The most telling lyric drips with social commentary: “I’m living in an age that laughs when I’m dancing with the one I love.”

12: We Used To Wait – The Suburbs

Led by piano and punctuated by snare hits and discordant guitar, the song gets suddenly vicious as it goes along. Butler shouts the almost meta-lyrics, “We used to wait for it/ Now we’re screaming, ‘Sing the chorus again!’” Less frenzied than anything of the first album, “We Used To Wait” is filled with slight electronic undertones and guitar tremors.

11: Neighborhood #2 (Laika) – Funeral

Add sleigh bells and accordion to the list of instruments that Arcade Fire can successfully toss into a rock song. A chaotic tale of a child going on a death-defying adventure, “Laika” exhibits the unrestrained emotion and nervousness that radiates from every instrument and every lyric that made Funeral so great.

[Intro][15-11][10-06][05-01]


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