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Everyone has a summer favourite and some six months after its release this is mine. A completely unique band with a unique edgy style, Arcade Fire undoubtedly draw on a wide range of influences ranging from Bowie's “Low” era, through an unlikely tip of the hat to everyone from REM and Talking Heads to Bjork, and even Yoko Ono.
There is so much stylistic diversity here, so many ideas, so many biting lyrics and little musical parodies, that no-one could ever claim this essential album to be anyone's baby but the magnificent Arcade Fire.
From the opening angst ridden vocals of “Neighborhood 1 (Tunnels)” through the deeply disturbing lyrical irony of “Neighborhood 2” to the disco beat underpinning the powerful “Neighborhood 1 (Power Out), there is something that stamps the band's weird style as memorable. It is also the case that when you first hear this album the chances are you will remember the time and place.
There an anthemic quality to the violin led “Crown of Love” which opens into an up tempo string led outro, and then suddenly fades. And although there is so much to enjoy the album's highlight for me is the piano led “Rebellious (Lies)” a hard driving stomp that brilliantly combines Win Butler's lead vocals some choir like bv's. The album is full of dense musical textures with a wide range of subtle dynamics at play often poised over a driving rhythm track. A superlative vocal, and clever use of judicious hand claps leads the stand out piece into in a closing dervish style whirl. Cutting edge contemporary music at its most challenging and innovative, this is a mini masterpiece.