The Arcade Fire 

Funeral

Nothing in life will change a person like death, and the Arcade Fire certainly couldn't have injected its heavily hyped and critically adored debut, Funeral, with such beauty and soul if four family members of the Montreal sextet hadn't passed away during its recording. But there's something about death that teaches you how to feel life, and there's something about loss that forces you open and keeps you honest, which is where all good music -- like Funeral's lush, mesmerizing rock orchestrations -- originates.

Each trebly melody, heartbeat drumbeat, singing string, kissing piano key, and trembling lyrical plea comes together just so, embracing the glorious sadness of life even as it rails against it. Just feel the sad sweeping majesty beaming from "In the Backseat," or the spine-chilling emotion trickling out of "Crown of Love." I guess we'll just have to adjust, frontman Win Butler yelps in heartbreaking frustration on the anthemic "Wake Up," just before the song dissipates into a "Lust for Life"-like dance riff; a fun lightheartedness Funeral manages occasionally. The hardest experiences give birth to the most breathtaking beauty.

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