Canadian rock lords Arcade Fire have dropped some angelic anthems over their 15-year career, and even though frontman Win Butler’s vocals get dreamier with every release, their earlier tracks can still go toe-to-toe with the best indie releases of today. It was a tight squeeze, but to celebrate the 36th birthday of the one and only Win Butler, we’ve made the effort – here are our top seven Arcade Fire tracks.
7. ‘We Exist’ Reflektor 2013
Boasting a super sweet 80’s pop sound, ‘We Exist’ on the surface sounds like a fun song made for busting killer dance moves to. But once again, proving the band’s depth and diversity, the lyrics tell the story of a young man coming to terms with his own gender identity and sexuality. The song belts out some really powerful and emotional lyrics like “Daddy it’s true, I’m different from you. But tell me why they treat me like this” and “They’re down on their knees, begging us please, praying that we don’t exist”.
6. ‘The Suburbs’ The Suburbs 2010
This song has the strangest feel to it, and that’s why it is so brilliant. The rhythm and jaunty drum sounds make for an upbeat, feel good song, while Butler’s melancholic vocals and lyrics tell a different story. A song that was written about the hidden darkness that can be found in an idyllic childhood. The lyrics “You always seemed so sure that one day we’d be fighting in a suburban war” give off quite a dark vibe.
Anyone else sensing a theme here? Happy sounding songs = dark times.
5. ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ Funeral 2004
An example of one of those songs that just keeps building and building to the point you never want it to end. The beat is fast and thumping, and is teamed beautifully with Butler’s soaring vocals. “Sleeping is giving in, no matter what the time is” has to be one of the best opening lyrics to a single. This song truly can’t be justified through words, it’s the kind that actually has to be listened to. I mean really listened to.
4. ‘Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)’ Funeral 2004
One of their older releases, ‘Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)’ is one of Arcade Fire’s most classic tracks, as it proves that even in their earlier days they were a force to be reckoned with. A soft melody teamed with prominent drums and haunting vocals, this tune oozes power and passion through lyrics including “As the day grows dim, I hear you sing a golden hymn. It’s the song I’ve been trying to sing”. Doesn’t it just make you want to melt?
3. ‘Ready To Start’ The Suburbs 2010
Definitely one of the best Arcade Fire releases to exist. From the get-go, it has a far heavier rock influence than their other work and has a painfully infectious, gritty undertone. The energy levels this track deliver are through the roof…it basically just makes you want to get off the couch and do something productive.
2. ‘Reflektor’ Reflektor 2013
‘Reflektor’ is just something else. It sounds as though it would be at home in the movie Trainspotting as it’s fast, heavy and stilted, and through the lyrics provides a visual story. “Alone in the darkness, darkness of white, we fell in love alone on a stage in the reflective age” is just the start of the reflective storytelling of the song. Not to mention the single features vocals from David Bowie. You can’t really get much better than that.
1. ‘Wake Up’ Funeral 2004
Sporting yet another totally different sound, ‘Wake Up’ is not even close to falling under the indie rock genre. It is more of an epic rock ballad that finishes as a boppy, pop influenced song, and as strange as that sounds, it totally works. There’s not a whole lot of lyrics that make up the song, but the ones that do are filled with raw emotion. “Something filled up my heart with nothing. Someone told me not to cry, but now that I’m older my heart’s colder, and I can see that it’s a lie” tugs on the ol’ heart-strings, and followed by the amazingly angelic vocals of Butler, it’s just a damn stunning song.
Try listening to this live rendition without getting goosebumps…