Music Monday: The Arcade’s On Fire

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 2/250

The idea of listening to the 250 albums most acclaimed albums of all time (a task which is made so much easier thanks to the tireless work of Henrik Franzon over at Acclaimed Music) raises an interesting question; how much focus would constitute a ‘listen’?

In theory I could just have an album on in the background whilst making dinner, not really pay much attention to it and consider that ticked off. However, the reason that I stuck this item on the list is that the manufacturing of such a wide variety of music is something irresistibly human. So in order to be considered properly listened too I have to actually pay attention as otherwise I won’t have gotten anything out of the experience.

For the most part the entries on this Top 250 are out of my musical area (many exceptions to this) so I hope to gain some new albums that I enjoy listening to. Today I’ll start off with two entries on this list that I have been listening to on some rather long walks; the two entries by Arcade Fire.

TheSuburbsTitle: The Suburbs
Artist: Arcade Fire
Year: 2010
Position: #214 (Previously: #175)

Probably a good idea to start off this music list with a Grammy Award-winning album which, to be honest, is not my favourite album by the good people at Arcade Fire. In fact it contains the only song by them that I actively skip whenever it comes on (‘Rococo’) which, up until the release of The Suburbs, I did not think was possible. Don’t get me wrong I am glad that they somehow crossed-over more to the mainstream but I wish it had been for Neon Bible instead since that is my favourite album of theirs.

There are plenty of great tracks on here. Opener ‘The Suburbs’ meant it originally took me a few days until I allowed myself to play the rest of the album because I loved it so much. ‘Empty Room’, ‘Half Light II (No Celebration)’ and ‘Month of May’ are great stomping tracks that make for a good power walk (I told you, I love walking and The Suburbs is pretty decent for that) but for me the album’s best moment is when Regine gets a chance to shine in ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’. She doesn’t have the strongest voice in the world but I always enjoy her solo tracks and her background cooing.

However something this album is really missing for me, that all other Arcade Fire albums deliver, is that goosebump moment that they do so well. I mean is you can get through ‘No Cars Go’ without even the smallest eruption of goosebumps… well I don’t know what to say.

FuneralTitle: Funeral
Artist: Arcade Fire
Year: 2004
Position: #32 (Previously: #47)

I said earlier how Neon Bible is my favourite album, but that’s more because it was the album that finally allowed me to access Funeral. I was first suggested this album by a school friend of mine with excellent musical taste but I was so deep in a J-Pop phase (for a while Hikaru Utada was my goddess) that the only song on this album that really made an impact on me was ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ and I played that a lot for a good while.

It then took a mix of moving away to university and the release of Neon Bible for me to decide to reappraise this album and see it for the work of pure baroque pop genius that it is. This was something that later helped me to find out about the wonders of Panda Bear (sadly Person Pitch is not in the Top 250), The Beach Boys and Of Montreal.

It’s hard for me to speak about this album without waxing lyrical about tracks 6 through 9. There are few albums that have such an amazing run of quite different tracks that are still all exceptional. The crescendo of ‘Crown of Love’, the anthem ‘Wake Up’, Regine’s moment to shine in ‘Haiti’ and of course ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ which is their highest ranked song on Acclaimed Music’s song section. Strange to think that an album so surrounded by death could inspire so much joy.

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