The Arcade Fire

Whether it inspires you or just leaves you pummeled, Funeral is a staggering debut. Over the course of just one album, The Arcade Fire bursts out of the rigid beats and chopping chords of its postpunk influences and straight into arena-rock territory; lead singer Win Butler's raw-throated bombast has even drawn comparisons to Springsteen. A curmudgeon could point out that almost nothing here sounds original, from the all-too-innocent Fifties homage to the stark, pulsing melodies that play catch-up to Interpol. But there's nothing phony about the driving choruses or stomping bass drums that give Funeral's anthems of mourning the fervor of a college football rally -- even if the mascot is an urn of ashes.