The Arcade Fire are Win Butler and Régine Chassagne (now husband and wife), Richard Parry, Tim Kingsbury, and Win’s little brother Will (I bet he loves being known as Win’s little brother, but hey, that’s how it reads in their bio). 2003 was quite an eventful one for this young band, as it was marred by the deaths of close family members of Win and Will, Régine and Richard. During the whirlwind of emotions that comes with losing a loved one, the band were signed to Merge and completed their debut album, not coincidentally titled Funeral. The album is a collaboration of sorts, with a rotating cast of characters donating their time, energy and expertise to the recording, but at its heart, Funeral is the offspring of the band’s core members. Songs like “Neighborhood #2 (Laika)” and “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” are dark and brooding, wild and slightly mysterious and build upon the foundation that Joy Division laid years before. “Crown Of Love” and “Wake Up” incorporate lush strings, a thick, layered sound and soaring, anthemic backing vocals to create a moving, emotional listening experience. This band has only been together for about a year and their first album is already being named by some insiders as one of 2004’s best. I think it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing a lot more from these guys in the months and years to come.

The Arcade Fire