Emotional then. Voices haunt the background, I can hear hammered pianos now. They nod their collective heads to disco. But they nod it more vigorously to The Pixies, yet the songs are more dense, layered and ambitious than anything The Pixies ever did. A friend once described The Arcade Fire as “the way I always wanted Mercury Rev to sound like.” That does it for me.
Regine’s voice adds an innocence – reinforces the theme of lost childhood. Her screeching tremolo screams at us, creates an odd but invigorating harmony with husband Win. They’re married for Christ’s sake. He’s called Win. Something’s going on here.
What I notice about this album is the way that the songs can’t keep still. There are no periods of reflection in the form of silences or ambient spells in the way that Sigur Ros or Mogwai would insist upon. No, each track pounds into the next, and then does a handstand at the last minute. A stately love ballad (Crown of Love) that doggedly thumps its way through the heartbreaking lyrics “If you still want me, please forgive me” builds and builds until it can’t go any further and then do you know what, it just snaps into a disco swing at double tempo. What possessed them? Wake Up, meanwhile starts as if an earnest choir and a traditional rock band just woke up together in the backyard of a church, clutching a copy of It’s A Wonderful Life and figured why the hell not? And again, this massive power ballad then gives out on us at the last minute, collapses under the weight of its own pressure and throws itself heavily into a little Motown ditty, ditching the guitars in favour of jaunty piano and jolly accordions. Sounds rubbish? It’s ace!
I’ve been listening to this album for weeks now, trying to figure it out. If you like your music sad and uplifting, immediate yet baffling then give this a go. I’d say there won’t be a better album this year if that wasn’t such a glaringly hideous paradox of a statement. Besides, they made it last year.
They made it last year! And you haven’t heard it yet? Life is short dude. Act accordingly.