On Saturday, Arcade Fire will celebrate the 15th anniversary of its debut album, Funeral. Released on September 14, 2004, Funeral was the big-sounding “little indie record” that could, riding a wave of ecstatic buzz from the blogosphere (back when blogs had real pull) to become one of the defining rock albums of its time. Arriving as the early ’00s New York rock scene crashed and burned, Funeral pulled a 180 from the stripped-back aesthetic of The Strokes, embracing a supremely uplifting and expansive sound that repurposed In The Aeroplane Over The Sea and blew it up to Wagnerian proportions.
Funeral was such a phenomenon in its small corner of the world that even Pitchfork’s rave 9.7 review became indie-famous. (It was recently declared “the single most consequential album review of the past 20 years” — that’s hyperbole, but it’s not hugely hyperbolic.) Even as Arcade Fire has evolved far beyond the sound of Funeral, the record remains the standard against each subsequent Arcade Fire album is judged. Surely that must be frustrating at times for the band, though it’s also a testament to the place that Funeral holds in the hearts of indie fans. If Arcade Fire never makes an album quite as beloved as Funeral, they should be comforted by how rare it is for any band to make an album with Funeral‘s impact.
Then again, has anyone actually proven that Funeral is the best Arcade Fire album? This question warrants a serious investigation. Therefore, let’s walk through the band’s discography and make sure that no other album — not even, cough, The Suburbs, cough — is actually better.