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REISSUE: Arcade Fire EP - 7/12/05

Old 07-12-05, 10:09 AM
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REISSUE: Arcade Fire EP - 7/12/05

I know Arcade Fire are big on these boards. Is anybody planning on picking this up today? Does anybody already own it? Thoughts?



Tracklisting:

1. Old Flame
2. I'm Sleeping In A Submarine
3. No Cars Go
4. The Woodland National Anthem
5. My Heart is an Apple
6. Headlights Look Like Diamonds
7. Vampire / Forest Fire

from pitchforkmedia:

The Arcade Fire
The Arcade Fire EP
[self-released; 2003; r: Merge; 2005]
Rating: 6.8 [out of 10.0]

If you're an Arcade Fire fan, chances are you've already acquainted yourself with their debut EP. Without taking into account its fertile propagation via file-sharing networks, this new "official" edition of the record essentially marks its third release: The band recorded and released it themselves pre-hype in 2003, selling it at shows and through their website. The next year, Merge Records began offering that same homemade EP through their website, in an attempt to sate the demand of an audience that had quickly grown obsessed with the group's full-length debut, Funeral. Now, in 2005, Merge is doing the inevitable: releasing a remastered and repackaged version of these seven songs, and finally putting it in stores, where it arguably ought to have been all along.

With its convoluted history, this EP is difficult to position in relation to Funeral, which looms over it like a monumental obelisk. While it's now nearly impossible to hear The Arcade Fire on its original 2003 terms, a comparison between the two records proves potentially condescending (from my notes: "... finds the band still unsure of their capabilities"). Listeners who didn't special-order the EP from Merge last year and are hearing the remastered versions of these songs for the very first time should, if nothing else, find it revelatory, the first notes of a band confident enough to stage an evacuation of women, children, and old folks during the coda of standout "No Cars Go". But for the rest of us, Funeral provides a new context as unflattering as fluorescent lighting.

No matter how patronizing the comment parenthesized above may sound, it still proves mostly true: The EP shows a band still finding its strengths and developing its sound, unsure of its talent for cathartic drama. That is, they still sound like they did-- or will-- on Funeral, only less so. The build-ups seem either less patient or less directed, the quick changes more deliberate, the structures more top-heavy, and the payoffs ultimately less rewarding. The band generates tension and energy, but don't always recognize the best way to unravel it. "My Heart Is an Apple" creates a subdued atmosphere for Win Butler's soulful vocals, but there's no strong melody to anchor them, and as a result, the song flatlines. Likewise, "Headlights Look Like Diamonds" has all the elements of the anthems that made Funeral so compelling, but never achieves the same effect. The homemade quality of these tracks, which has become an Arcade Fire trademark on par with their homespun album packaging, gives them a gritty immediacy, but the remastering only amplifies the problems the band would resolve with Funeral.

Still, it's important to point out that the EP is more than just dress rehearsal for the album. There are moments that not only hint at the heights of that album, but scale such heights themselves. "Vampire/Forest Fire" achieves the right balance of build-up and release: Butler's vocals start measured and empathic, growing louder and stronger as the keyboards circle the chorus and the sound climactically explodes. But most of these tracks have more modest aims than such airy catharsis and achieve them through well-considered instrumentation: the piano flutters that lifts "I'm Sleeping in a Submarine", the dodgy guitar melody that weaves through "Old Flame", the melodic bassline and jolting drumbeat on "No Cars Go", the campfire percussion of "The Woodland National Anthem".

What connects The Arcade Fire so inextricably to Funeral-- and what makes the band so distinct-- is its tone of youthful conspiracy (the EP is known unofficially as Us Kids Know). On "No Cars Go" and "Vampire/Forest Fire", Butler and wife Régine Chassagne write in a coded language explicitly for rock's original audience: kids. But while they infuse the songs with a dread and drama that reaches an adolescent intensity and bleeds into every track, they never retreat to a romanticized notion of childhood. As Funeral suggested and this EP proves, the Arcade Fire know that world is as treacherous as its adult mirror-- an insight encoded in the band's genetic make-up and a motivating force since striking their first note.

-Stephen M. Deusner, July 12, 2005
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Old 07-12-05, 11:16 AM
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should be in my mailbox any day now. i'm personally glad i didn't have to pay upwards of $20 on ebay for it. i don't expect much, but the few songs i've heard and know are great. it'll be nice to have my own copy.
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Old 07-12-05, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Hollowgen
should be in my mailbox any day now. i'm personally glad i didn't have to pay upwards of $20 on ebay for it. i don't expect much, but the few songs i've heard and know are great. it'll be nice to have my own copy.
$9.99 at Best Buy. Remastered as well.
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Old 07-12-05, 05:14 PM
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I've had it for a while now. It's good, but Funeral is a lot better IMO.
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Old 07-13-05, 12:37 AM
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I'll have to pick this up in Thursday.
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Old 07-13-05, 01:00 AM
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$8.99 at circuit city
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Old 07-13-05, 03:53 AM
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Wow, I didn't even know this was coming out. Looks like I'll be picking it up tomorrow.
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Old 07-15-05, 12:49 PM
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Not quite as polished as Funeral but I am enjoying it greatly. Nice to get some "new" (well, new to me) music from the band before their sophmore effort.

Has anyone heard their song off the Six Feet Under Soundtrack? Thoughts?
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Old 07-15-05, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by automator
Has anyone heard their song off the Six Feet Under Soundtrack? Thoughts?
pitchfork's review of the track was pretty spot-on. it's a song that tricks you into thinking it'll explode with greatness after a somber build-up. but it doesn't. it just ends. and disappoints.
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