When Arcade Fire confirmed earlier this month that they were releasing a new album on Oct. 29, we all celebrated the comeback of the loudest kids in the ‘burbs. The band that has set themselves apart countless times for their impressively orchestrated hits, their ability to drum anthems from whispers of children’s adventures and their young-at-heart rally against the big guns of the world. With LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy already talking up their next effort as a “really epic” album, we can only hope for more tracks like these, the 10 best from Arcade Fire so far.
10. “Crown of Love”
Things Arcade Fire does well: instrumental crescendos, tempo changes and key changes. And this song has all of them. A love song that’s so passionate that Win Butler’s even “carved your name across [his] eyelids,” its stunning orchestral accompaniments attempt to convey the same message. Beginning at a languid, waltz-like pace, the song explodes toward the end into a massive congestion of instrumentation, when pleading string arrangements roll into a bold and desperate refrain. We’ll be damned if he hasn’t convinced you to stay by the end of the track.
9. “My Body is a Cage”
There’s something brooding and deeply personal about “My Body is a Cage” that sets the track apart from the blissful in Funeral and the political leanings of Neon Bible. Though this slow burner might not be your first pick for a party playlist, it’s an unforgettable song that comes back to you at a crowded setting or when insecurities have you feeling trapped. The swelling orchestral build that occurs mid-song is powerful and dramatic as the muted percussion is immersed in a wall of hair-raising organ and seraphic harmonies.
8. “Neighborhood #3” (Power Out)
Arcade Fire loves to close their shows with “Neighborhood #3,” and it’s easy to see why. This hell-raising track makes us want to bang on pots and pans in time with the crashing drum beats and chant along with Win Butler as he howls and yells, “Look at them go! Look at them go!” With growling guitars that are offset by tinkling chimes, the track seems to fuel its own energy, lighting its way through the darkness of the great power outage.
7. “Ready to Start”
The video for “Ready to Start,” while merely live footage of the band performing the song, demonstrates why this is one of Arcade Fire’s best songs. There’s a relentless drive and power to this song that is best captured by seeing the band perform it in person, as they reel around stage and play their instruments at full force. If the fight to keep the kids on top is a dominant theme throughout their albums, then this song is the one that has us right at the front lines, kicking and screaming against the “businessmen who drink [our] blood.”
6. “Keep the Car Running”
Neon Bible was a difficult album to follow up Funeral’s breakout success, and many fans were disappointed by the band’s foray into darker, moodier material. However, the second track on the album, “Keep the Car Running” was one of the tracks that retained the exuberance of Funeral’s high notes, one that helped to take the sting off of the album’s more bitter moments. It’s a feel-good tune with an upbeat, swaying rhythm that puts you on your feet and keeps you there.
5. “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
If there is any one track on The Suburbs that we can’t stop hitting ‘repeat’ on, it’s this one. From the infectious melody to Chassagne’s sing-along chorus, it’s one you want to dance to with wild abandon (as its video suggests) and shout-sing wherever you happen to hear it. A frequent closer for sets on their Suburbs tour, the anthemic track speaks to the dreamer in all of us and gives us hope that even though we may lose ourselves in “the sprawl,” we’ll find our way out.
4. “Rebellion (Lies)”
With the assertion that “sleeping is giving in,” this track is a ball of energy that refuses to quiet down for “bedtime.” One of the first songs that really got us hooked on the band, the song invites you to live out a daring dream. An excellent mix of innocent and wild, the track couples a sing-song chorus of “Lies! Lies!” with pounding drums that force you to “lift those heavy eyelids.”
3. “Wake Up”
Easily their most popular track, Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” is a universal call-to-action, a bid from Win Butler and Co. that’s too fun to pass up. There’s something unspeakably joyous about “Wake Up.” With its group harmonies, buzzing guitar chords and meandering piano parts, the song sounds like the kind of adventure that everyone wants to be a part of.
2. “The Suburbs”
“The Suburbs” captures so many different emotions in one five minute track, setting the tone for an ambitious album that sets out to spearhead the themes introduced in previous albums.The pain and beauty of growing up…the jadedness and suffocation that a childhood in the suburbs inspires, it’s all here, emoted by Butler’s croons about “moving past the feeling.”
1. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) was our first introduction to Arcade Fire’s discography and remains the essential Arcade Fire song. The track invites us into a child’s paradise, imagining the kind of world where kids reign supreme (though by the time we’re halfway through Funeral, we know the kids will have to fight to stay there). It recalls the awe and protective stance we might have taken with a childhood tree-house, because this epic snow jaunt is a kids-only adventure (no adults welcome). Starting out in hushed, conspiratorial tones, the song snowballs into a crescendo of sound that comes to a head with Regine Chassagne’s rapturous, soaring high notes.