What the Strokes were to the early portion of this decade, Arcade Fire were to the its middle period. Translation - the biggest indie rock band around.
Funeral is a record. This we know. But, culturally Funeral became so much more. Funeral marked the moment that the much hyped blogosphere proved it could actually rally around one specific thing and create a phenomenon. It helped, however that the record in question was as good as Funeral.
A whole lot of people heard of Funeral before they heard Funeral. To say there was hype is putting it pretty mildly. There was hype. Tons of it. But, Funeral managed to do what so many other records have failed to do (I'm looking at you Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) - not only deliver on the hype but actually make the hype seem subtle. The record is so sweeping, so grand, so inspired, so ambitious, so wonderfully earnest and sincere. It's just a great piece of art.
The first time I listened to Funeral I was reminded of Neutral Milk Hotel's fantastic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I'm sure I'm not the first person to compare the records and I certainly won't be the last, but the orchestral sweep of the them and the storytelling prowess of both Win Butler and Jeff Mangum make them kindred spirits in the best way possible. This is not to say Funeral is anything but a wholly original work (much like Aeroplane) it is, but the records are linked in my mind and in a very good way.
Back when I worked at NBC there was a show about to premiere called The Black Donnellys and I was able to see a rough cut of the pilot before the show was aired. It was a mob show and the climax of the pilot was a shootout that was scored by Funeral's "Rebellion (Lies)". The show was pretty by the numbers, but that last five minutes was a thing of beauty and I remember thinking "this show will be a huge hit because people will never forget that sequence". Ultimately, Arcade Fire would not license the song for the show and when the pilot finally aired it was replaced by a Snow Patrol song. The show was canceled after a few episodes. I still contend that had they been able to use the Arcade Fire song, that show would have been the next Sopranos and probably still on television. Arcade Fire do that. They're unforgettable. They make things better. Their music makes you feel. I mean did anybody see that Where the Wild Things Are trailer and not tear up? I still can't hear "Wake Up" without getting chills. This is a band that will mean something to everyone who hears them and Funeral is nothing short of a perfect record.