Critics' darlings who are actually good.
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Suggested First Purchase: Funeral
Arcade Fire (2003) -- This 30-something minute long album wasn't distributed in a widespread way until 2005, and--now that I've heard it--it makes Funeral make more sense. I thought that they just came out with their first album firing, but this debut shows that they had worked through some stuff first. It's a good little record, and it shows the bigness to come. "No Cars Go" and "Headlights Look Like Diamonds" are the highlights.
Funeral (2004) -- There's a reason everyone likes this album, besides the fact that it's good. The Arcade Fire have managed to make a critic-proof album. It's appealing to everyone, but not in an obviously appealing way like good "pop" music. You have to cloak your appeal these days. So like it's really well-produced without being slick, but also lo-fi without being too noticeably so. The lyrics are straightforward enough so you know what they're singing about, and it's decently-serious stuff, but it's cryptic enough to appeal to people who like that. You can dance to it, but it's not like -- you know -- disco or dance rap, so no problems there for people who'd just rather stand in one place and bop to it. The songs themselves are good, if you like songs as songs. But they're all tied together, in case you're a cohesive album fan. I mean--it's music for people who like music, but it's also that other "something else" (right down to the crazy packaging) for people who take music too seriously and think it can change the world or whatever. Oh, and they're Canadian, which gives them a certain credibility that Americans or Brits or any other country just wouldn't have at this point in history. But what do I think? I like it of course, cause what's not to like. My favorite songs are "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)," "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)," "Crown of Love," "Wake Up," and "Rebellion (Lies)," though I think the entire album is good. But I guess the fact that it has such a wide appeal doesn't give it enough specificity to make it a super super super super favorite album of mine, like Neutral Milk Hotel or whatever. But, sure, deserving of all the attention it's getting. I just hope the band doesn't pull a Radiohead and shoot themselves in the ass trying to be the most "serious" band in the world.
Neon Bible (2007)
Copyright (c) Feb 2005 - Jul 2008 by Rusty Likes Music