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ARTS ISSUE: Arcade Fire livens up music scene with antics

Posted on December 5, 2013 | by Kim Hart

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When Montreal-based indie rock band Arcade Fire took home the Album of the Year award at the 2011 Grammy Awards for their record “The Suburbs,” an internet-wide period of questioning followed. Twitter was abuzz with people asking “Who are The Suburbs?” because they had never heard of Arcade Fire and mistook the album name for the band name.

Since their humble beginnings, the group has stood out in the music world for their elaborate sound and matching stage presence.

In 2004, Arcade Fire released their first full-length album, “Funeral.” On it, the band proved to be a rising star, and the album included beautiful, empowering music that received nearly unanimous praise from professional critics.

Arcade Fire took a turn for the macabre with 2006’s “Neon Bible,” which featured an experimentation of instruments such as the hurdy gurdy, the mandolin and the pipe organ. This record also marked the beginning of the band’s penchant for strange marketing campaigns, as they released the album’s first single, “Neon Bible,” through a telephone number.

The award-winning “Suburbs” offered a commentary on adolescence and suburban life. The disco-infused “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains” stuck out the most, with layers of synthesizers and vibrant vocals marking another change of pace for the band.

This year’s “Reflektor” is Arcade Fire’s most striking record to date. Its worldwide, graffiti-filled promotion preceded an album that is a far cry from the band’s earlier days, but is still no less enjoyable or magnificent. Listeners just appreciate it in a different way. “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)” is one of the record’s highlights, featuring infectious guitar melodies and vocal harmonies. Another standout,“Here Comes the Night Time,” takes a reggae-inspired sound and effortlessly shifts from riotous beats to a groovy flow.

In retrospect, the through line for Arcade Fire’s diverse catalogue is their heavy layering and decadent instrumentation — two things that have brought them success and a loyal following. For their upcoming Reflektor Tour, the band asked attendees to dress formally or in costume. When this annoyed some, who considered the request unnecessary, Arcade Fire responded that the dress code is “not mandatory,” and its sole purpose is to create a “fun carnival” atmosphere.

It is evident that even now, the grandiose six-piece group has no interest in taking themselves too seriously — they’re just in it for the fun.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Dec. 5 print edition. Kim Hart is a staff writer. Email her at


Tatiana Baez

Assistant Managing Editor | A CAS junior, Tatiana is studying journalism, environmental science and politics. She’s a bomb editor, as well as the staff’s main source of entertainment because she sings along to every song after 12 a.m. She also writes about culture, science, technology and sex, and her work has been featured in VICE, Motherboard, Elite Daily, amNewYork and others. She enjoys eating Thai food, reading fiction and binge-watching Netflix.

And in case you were wondering how great she really is — “I just can’t get enough of Tatiana” is a direct quote from her EIC at WSN only moments ago.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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