Rank and File finds us sorting through an exhaustive, comprehensive body of work or collection of pop-culture artifacts. This time, we celebrate Arcade Fire’s entire catalogue by revisiting all 85 of their anthems. This article originally ran in 2017 and has been updated as of May 6th, 2022 to mark the release of WE.
From the very first notes of their debut album — those gleaming wind-chime like synths, the chugging guitar, the regal piano — Arcade Fire became one of those remarkably few life-changing, era-defining bands in indie rock history. Their songs soared, creaked, ached, and roared, breathing vibrant, triumphant life and passion.
For over two decades, the New Orleans-by-way-of-Montreal band have continued to push and challenge themselves, drawing from their own confrontation with personal crisis and giving us access to things we might have been ignoring within our own lives. But always retaining the emotional core, their “us against the world” anthems, and their arena-propelling hooks.
Now, five years after the underwhelming Everything Now — arguably one of the only major “missteps” in their storied career — Arcade Fire have released their sixth studio album WE, a concept album about the separation between “I” and “We” and their shortest LP to date. Back when it was announced in March of 2022 with the two part single “The Lightning I, II,” WE promised a return to form for Arcade Fire, a hearkening back to the cards-on-the-table arena jams that propelled them into the upper echelon of indie. Although WE is far from a perfect return, it is an ambitious, fascinating album from the group, and it’s one that adds a number of worthy entries into their catalog.
Unpacking every Arcade Fire song and ranking them is quite the task, especially considering the sheer weight and quantity of their frequent odysseys across six albums. But few indie acts are worth dissecting in such a manner, with so many themes, tropes, and sounds recurring over the years, tying everything together in one grand package. It’s certainly been a joy unraveling it all, so here is every Arcade Fire song, ranked.
After finding out what we put at No. 1, you can stream the entire list in order via the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the post.
— Lior Phillips and Paolo Ragusa