Gothic post-rock upstarts leave London stupified in their wake...

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The Arcade Fire : London King's College

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The Arcade Fire : London King’s College

You’ve heard it countless times before: “When I die, I don’t want

people to get upset. I want them to throw a party and celebrate my life!”

What a load of bullshit. When I pop off I want people to mope around

sobbing uncontrollably, inconsolable that they’ll never see me again. I want

all my loved ones to enter counselling and at least two of my closest

friends to contemplate suicide.

Still, this is probably the reason I’m sat at home most nights reading
Camus while bands like [a]The Arcade Fire[/a] are turning their

misery into gloriously uplifting, orchestral power-pop crusades. Stuff like
‘Rebellion (Lies)’ which takes the bombast of U2, adds a

thumping house backbeat and soars off into the sky.

Not that [a]The Arcade Fire[/a] deal simply in Polyphonic Spree

Prozac vibes. ‘Wake Up’ starts off with three screaming maniacs

howling then ends up, implausibly enough, as a bass-driven Motown

stomper.

[a]The Arcade Fire[/a], you see, are just plain weird. For starters,

they have a member who’s not averse to wearing crash helmets onstage. Then

there’s towering lead singer, Win Butler, who wears a gothic suit

jacket and has a voice so shaky it makes Wayne Coyne sound like
Frank Sinatra. Most peculiar of all is singer (and Win’s wife)
Régine Chassagne, who looks like she’s been taken from an antique

musical box. During ‘Haiti’ she runs through a series of robotic,

mime artist movements like a blossoming, mechanical flower (if such things

were to exist). But perhaps what’s oddest about [a]The Arcade Fire[/a] is

that they take as their template the most yawn-inducing, algebra-wanking

musical genre known to mankind (post-rock), and turn it into weapons-grade

party material. Even more astonishing is how these Montreal

sound-sculptors cram their woozy orchestration, rocket-powered rhythms and

wanton ambition into neatly-compressed, four-minute pop songs.

After the final, funereal ‘In The Backseat’ we’re left with

nothing but the sound of medieval chanting and a lone, thudding drumbeat as

the band exit the stage and then march through the entire crowd. If all

funerals were this heart-burstingly joyous then you’d be leaving cyanide in

your housemate’s cornflakes in the hope of it leading to a top night out. In

every sense, here’s a band worth dying for.

Tim Jonze