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