Artist of the Week: Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire is a rock band based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, consisting of husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, along with Richard Reed Parry, William Butler, Tim Kingsbury, Jeremy Gara and frequent collaborators Sarah Neufeld and Owen Pallett. One may still call them an “indie” band, but the truth is that their commercial success blurred the frontier that once separated independent acts from major commercial recording labels signees and opened the way for other bands such as Vampire Weekend, The Decembrists, MGMT and Grizzly Bear to reach the summits of Billboard’s Top 200.
The title of their 2004 debut Funeral was a straight reference to the death of several relatives of band members during its recording, which definitely influenced the somber atmosphere and elegiac tone that so deeply contrasted with the empowering, hopeful and euphoric delivery of the band. The record was commercially and critically acclaimed: it was nominated for a Grammy Award, became Merge Records’ first album to enter the Billboard 200 chart and is, still to this date, one of most unanimous records of its era.
After touring alongside U2 and playing with super fan David Bowie, Arcade Fire released their sophomore effort Neon Bible in 2007. The record featured an ambitious sound with choirs, pipe organs and grand orchestrations that divided the critics but definitely increased their fan base and made them play more than 120 shows over the course of a year. 2010’s The Suburbs was simultaneously a more eclectic and personal affair: a sumptuous ode to suburban middle-class dreams and childhood that reached the top of both the US and UK charts and won prestigious awards such as Grammy for Album of The Year, the Polaris Prize and the Brit Awards for Best International Album and Best International Group.
Reflektor, their fourth, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy produced and recently released double studio album, is a towering achievement that incorporates Jamaican and Haitian elements into their most celebratory and dancing record to date and proves that a band at its commercial peak can still produce enticing music without alienating their fans.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.