Well you're probably wondering why I chose to review both of their albums at once, and quite frankly, it's because neither of them are good enough to devote an entire review of each. Now before you get mad at me for, *gasp!* not liking Arcade Fire, stop; don't consider me a critic of the band, consider me a critic of their albums.
I've heard a lot of hype about this band, and I dodged listening to them for years before my friend finally lent me their discs. It pains me to see wonderful songs like "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" and "Une Annee Sans Lumiere" get stuck on the same album as awful songs like "In the Backseat" and "Crown of Love". I have a feeling I'm not alone in this thinking either. People probably think that it got good reviews so they can ignore the couple bad songs on there. Unfortunately, I believe that a good album is mostly good with a couple bad spots, rather than mostly bad (aweful at times) and sometimes wonderful.
Like I mentioned, "Neighborhood #1" is an energetic, wintery way to start out an album, and I loved it. The band has a very French-Canadian sound, which I admire and respect, but when their female singer actually sings, it doesn't work out. The only noteworthy songs on this album are "Neighborhood #1"; "Une Annee Sans Lumiere", a nice split between French and English that tells a familiar tale that turns Talking Heads-epic at the end; "Rebellion" is alright as well. The turn atypical on themselves on their first album, not a good start.
Alrightey, number two. This one shows significant improvement from the artsy/faux-epic/atypical Indie Rock of "The Funeral".
Continuing the French-Canadian influence, the first track belts "Un, deux, trois, dit mirroir noir!". A nice opener. "Keep the Car Running" is their best song yet. The fast, running, racing energy of it keeps you intrigued by the music, and the story telling. Most of the other tracks kind of run into each other without sticking out too much, but at least sound good. Their use of instruments is impressive, their use of French is impressive, but their particular brand of art-rock is not always charming and I don't always enjoy listening to their albums all the way through, rather a couple songs here and there.
Like I said, it's not that I don't like Arcade Fire, I tried reaally hard to drink the punch like everyone else and just like them, but I can't help but think they are little too repetitive and odd at times.
Key Tracks: "Neighborhoods 1", "Une Annee Sans Lumiere", "Keep the Car Running"
Listen if you like: Talking Heads, David Bowie, Wolf Parade.