The Arcade Fire
At this point, there’s nothing I can do to affect the course of the hurricane that is Funeral. You’ve read the reviews, you know the back story, you’ve listened to the album. It’s made its way to the top of nearly every critic’s top 10 list for 2004. Hell, I even write this in the wake of the band’s appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. It’s huge and it’s only going to get bigger. I couldn’t be happier for it either. After years of being continually less than impressed by the cream of the crop (“dad rock,” dance remix hand puppets, Joy Division redux, etc.), I get presented with an album that sounds like the combination of The Talking Heads, Belle & Sebastian and Godspeed You! Black Emperor; a band that can range from chaotic orchestral to shamboling lo-fi pop and all the ground in between, all in five minutes. The greatest aspect of the album, though, is the catharsis on every track, the moments when chorus vocals sweep up from nowhere for the briefest release, the mad clattering of kitchen sink percussion where every member plays like they’re seaching for salvation through sound. The amazing thing is that even before their quest is completed, they’re providing it for the listener and doing a better job than any other band this year.