Contemporary journalism has been widely criticised for eschewing traditional investigative practices, nuanced politico-social commentary and specialist arts criticism in favour of desperate and nihilistic click-hungry ranking. Ranking members of the Kardashian family. Ranking singles by Ranking Roger. Ranking yourself into apathetic numbness as the world around us slowly burns.
Here at Spinal Bap we are not above such unashamed rankery and seeing as Arcade Fire have a new cassette tape out or something and they’ve appealed to complete rankers since day one, we thought we might as well rank all their albums.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the order we came up with!
In first place we have the first Arcade Fire album, obviously. Released in 2004, Funeral offered everything from a semi-tragic back-story to a post-Godspeed propensity for additional viola players. The album earned an unprecedented nine-point-infinity rating from Pitchfork even though it contained nothing that Hope Of The States hadn’t already nailed. Still, there’s no denying this was their first album.
Arcade Fire’s difficult second album was difficult for the band to make and even more difficult to be excited about unless you happened to work in the offices of Pitchfork. It had that song about cars on it and, y’know, that other one, the other one about the cars. It was better than what was to follow, however, and anyone who disagrees has clearly lost their bag of spherical rolling toys.
Arcade Fire’s difficult third album is also third in the respect that it is their third best. Not to be confused with a competition from the pages of an upper-class Victorian periodical, Win Butler is the frontman of Arcade Fire. Win described The Suburbs as a cross between Depeche Mode and Neil Young even though neither of those artists peaked with their debut album. Pitchfork were euphoric once more, comparing the record to The Clash’s Sandinista!, Bruce Springsteen’s catch-all genius and The Earth by a supreme being known to some humans as “God”.
If their third-released and third-best album was a little on the long side, Arcade Fire’s difficult fourth album was a never-ending road trip down the dull freeway of Win Butler’s self-indulgence. Across two discs produced by the confidence man who pretended to split up LCD Soundsystem, Reflektor explored dance-rock, art-rock and dub reggae, but mainly dance-rock. New Order remained untroubled. Pitchfork remained in thrall, enjoying the results as much as oxygen, orgasms or cake.
Everything? No. Not with a title track that sounds exactly like Dan Gillespie-Sells from The Feeling covering ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ in an ABBA wig with a panpipe breakdown. Arcade Fire’s difficult follow-up to their difficult fourth album was marketed in an even more patronising fashion than Radiohead’s previous six promotional campaigns combined. The actual music, which they’d spent less time on, was so bad that even Pitchfork scored it lower than the third Kaiser Chiefs LP.