‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) by Arcade Fire
From the album Funeral (2004)
This week’s Track of the Week is my penultimate foray into the depths of Canadian ‘indie’ music (even though I must confess that I really enjoy Bryan Adams, I feel as though an article detailing the intricacies of his 1984 classic, ‘Run To You’, would be a bit of a waste). In giving myself only eight measly weeks to run this series I have missed out a great number of fantastic artists bubbling under the surface of Lake Ontario (/pick any one of the Great Lakes, apart from Michigan because none of that is in Canada) and therefore I’d urge you to do more reading on the subject of Canadian music, starting with the Arts & Crafts record label and moving on from there because basically everybody in Canada either records, guests, or performs with, each other’s bands.
Anyway, Arcade Fire, arguably the most successful/well-known Canadian indie export, appeared out of nowhere with 2004’s Funeral, an album rightly hailed as one of the best of the 2000s and a game-changer in terms of indie rock. It garnered millions of followers and imitators as it played from countless radio stations and music channels all over the world, and served to remind people that there was more to Canadian music than Bryan Adams and Celine Dion.
My first exposure to the band came with the above track, one which is seemingly so simple, applying the same basic chord structure (D-F, if you must know) almost all the way throughout the song, but complicated by the rises and falls that punctuate said structure; employing, variously, glockenspiels, strings, single note guitar and bass bursts and Win Butler’s unmistakable vocals (an extremely powerful instrument in its own right). A notable example of this is in the buildup to one of the guitar interludes in which Butler intones, almost desperately –
Is it a dream? Is it a lie? I think I’ll let you decide
Just light a candle for the kids, Jesus Christ don’t keep it hid!
‘cause nothing’s hid, from us kids
You ain’t fooling nobody, with the lights out!
There should be nothing stopping you from checking out the rest of the Arcade Fire back catalogue; Neon Bible (2007) and The Suburbs (2010) are just behind Funeral in terms of quality (both solid 7.5-8/10s though), but their latest release, Reflektor (2013) is something else entirely. I seem to recall that I came to it quite late, having had a bit of downtime from the band, but I fell in love with it almost instantly. Any casual listener can clearly hear the roots of Reflektor (the title track especially) in ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’; it’s simply fantastic.