Staff Writer

Recent debut albums seem to come a dime a dozen these days, however, The Arcade Fire kicks in the door with its record "Funeral."
Based out of Montreal, the band decided to name the album "Funeral" after many deaths of close friends and relatives. To emphasize the feeling of loss, the band includes liner notes in the form of a funeral program.
The first half of "Funeral" tells a story of the "Neighborhood," focusing on a central theme of love and redemption that continues through the latter half of the album. "Funeral" offers a non-stop rollercoaster of sound while the album segues from track to track with everything from harps to organs and xylophones in the mix.
Blasting off with "Neighborhood #1," lead vocalist Win Butler sings every note as if his life depends on it. Opened by a sunny piano riff, Butler follows with "if the snow buries my neighborhood, I'll dig a tunnel from my window to yours."
Seamlessly flowing into "Neighborhood #2," the band cheers on their older brother who has set out on a great adventure, encouraging him with shouts of "Come on Alex, you can do it/Come on Alex, there's nothing to it." Alex is later bit by a vampire during the accordion-laced track.
At times sounding like The Cure while still echoing The Shins, each composition includes multiple tracks of violin and horns which are all built around strong vocal performances.
Drummer Timothy Kingsbury lays down a beat that will keep feet tapping throughout the record while the rest of the band trades off duties on piano, guitar and bass.
The epic "Rebellion (Lies)" is driven by heavy background vocals and a pounding mix of piano and drums. Butler confronts the fear of death with lyrics such as "Sleeping is giving in, so lift those heavy eyelids," and "People say you'll die faster than without water, but we know it's just a lie."
While a steady strings arrangement builds in "Crown of Love", Butler pines, "In my heart there's flowers growin' on the grave of our old love," while the song dramatically concludes with an intense violin duel.
"Funeral" offers a level of passion and energy that is rarely found from such a young band. Impressive vocal performances from Butler and Chassagne combine with lush "soundscapes" to make this debut a must have.
Grade: A+