The 15 Best Arcade Fire Songs

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The 15 Best Arcade Fire Songs

When Arcade Fire finally released their fifth studio album Everything Now last week, 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. You can check out our review of the Montreal-based band’s latest effort here, but read on for a look back at the 15 best songs the band has written over the course of their 16-year career.

15. “Empty Room”
It’s telling that the shortest proper song on The Suburbs is also its most tremblingly raw. Its underlying frustration simmers throughout, so when the mood properly unloads into churning, power-chord rock, it crashes into motion like a Ferrari though a glass wall. Owen Pallett’s dizzying, chipmunked string loops are some of the longtime collaborator’s most integral, and Régine Chassagne’s vocals are wickedly urgent and comforting to all listeners, whether they read the track as maniacally lonely or a celebration of solitude. —Zane Warman

14. “Creature Comfort”
“Creature Comfort” briefly disrupts the pattern on Everything Now, putting up the album’s loudest and most empathetic fight against the numbness it occasionally induces. Portishead alumnus Geoff Barrow kickstarts a simple groove with this sawy, Nine Inch Nails-style synth line as the band layers over sour, shrieking chants. Everything Now’s trappings are still found here: The “cheery melody/distressed lyrics” juxtaposition feels calculated and the ‘jam’ precisely timetabled to ensure maximum engagement. But the image of an anguished Butler throwing his head back to cry, “God, please make me famous / if you can’t, just make it painless” makes “Creature Comfort” a rare-sounding moment of authenticity, not as an act of theater. —Zane Warman

13. “(Antichrist Television Blues)”
Neon Bible is Arcade Fire at their most fundamentally folk—more gorgeously dressed instrumentally, but just as morally inconsistent-and “(Antichrist Television Blues)” is the album’s functions at their essence. Butler’s pious, profiteering father figure becomes increasingly despicable, self-righteously manipulating his songbird daughter into performing to line his pockets (no surprise here that the song is inspired by Joe Simpson). The band takes turns ornamenting the 12-bar blues. By the time Butler finishes screaming that he is, “through being cute, I’m through being nice / oh, tell me Lord, am I an Antichrist?” there’s nothing more stark and gratifying than hearing the song’s delirium disappear into nothing. —Zane Warman

12. “Crown of Love”
Arcade Fire does certain things extraordinarily well—instrumental crescendos, tempo changes and key changes, to name a few—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. —Lori Keong

11. “We Used To Wait”
For many of us, hearing “We Used To Wait” can’t be separated from the visual of Arcade Fire’s Google Earth The Wilderness Downtown project that soundtracked an interactive satellite-based music video of the house you grew up in. “We Used To Wait” is as eloquent of a treatise on changin’ times as Bob Dylan’s take nearly 50 years prior in 1964. It’s the lynchpin of The Suburbs, a perfect concept album if there ever was one, and conjures up nostalgia for those of us who still remember pre-technologically dominated times. And in their long-lasting peak, Arcade Fire managed to turn the pointedly conceptual into something anthemic. It’s the spice of the band when they where at their best. —Adrian Spinelli

10. “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. —Lori Keong

9. “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. —Lori Keong

8. “Reflektor”
The title track from Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album, “Reflektor” reflects (so to speak) the band’s newer dance-rock tendencies. Bulter said that traveling to Haiti, where Chassagne’s family escaped during the dictatorship of François Duvalier, influenced both song and album. In particular, Chassagne’s vocals sound truly ghost-like, wavering high above Butler’s and drifting in and out of the walls of Haitian rara percussion. “Reflektor” served as a great comeback single for Arcade Fire, but still represents the band’s commitment to Haiti and the universal the struggle for equality. -Hilary Saunders

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.” —Lori Keong

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. —Lori Keong

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 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. —Lori Keong

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.” —Lori Keong

3. “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.” —Lori Keong

2. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”
“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” was our first introduction to Arcade Fire’s discography and remains an 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. —Lori Keong

1. “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. —Lori Keong

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