Look, promise you won't judge me on this one, will you? Everyone skips over something important once in a while - hell, the Beatles were rejected by the first few record labels they approached for a contract. Even the Mercury Prize, lone guardians of groundbreaking music (apparently) seem to get it wrong every year. It's only human to overlook the obvious. You see, until about a month ago, I'd never listened to Arcade Fire in my life.
Maybe that's a bit of a lie. I've had Neighbourhood #3 on my iPod for several years but didn't really think much of it. My Dad played "Funeral" once in the kitchen and we were both unimpressed. But when I told Ben I'd never really listened to them, he told me he was jealous of me - because he wished he had the opportunity to discover the album all over again.
I admit, I'd seen Funeral in plenty of "top albums of the decade" lists (not to mention frothing hype for their next record), but I'd never really bothered looking into them. But Ben's recommendation (notice a pattern as to where I get my new music from these days? I know, it's worrying me as well) convinced me to download the first album and give it a listen.
And um... wow. It's pretty good. Not that that revelation will come as much of a surprise to most - but to fresh ears, even five years on it sounds just as good. The layered textures of are beautifully constructed, the songs are delicate yet forceful, and the tracks are arranged for maximum impact. Not every tune stands up on its own - although "Rebellion (Lies)" isfantastic - but together they form an impressively cohesive package.
Album of the decade, though? Perhaps it's the context that's important here. Back in 2005, the charts were dominated by hip-hop acts such as Black Eyed Peas, 50 Cent and Kanye West, while Coldplay and Green Day were the best "rock" music could muster. I can only assume - and correct me if I'm wrong - that Arcade Fire's emphasis on glockenspiels, accordions and violins sounded practically alien to an audience grown used to the computer-derived music of the previous last five years or so. Perhaps they laid the foundations for the current folk revival storming the charts. Who knows?
Regardless of any lasting importance, Funeral is definitely a great album. Will the latest album The Suburbs reach its heights? Ask me again in about five years time and I'll let you know.