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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.