In death and devastation lie the seeds of rebirth and inspiration, or so the Arcade Fire's Merge debut leads us to believe. Funeral is an elegy for many things: departed loved ones, childhood, broken hearts, families, a way of life. The Montreal indie squad use forms rooted in tradition, from violin-drenched waltzes to dusty acoustic folk, from doo-wop to calypso, and give them a theatrical pomo twist. A ballad like Crown Of Love starts with stately elegance but explodes into a disco burner; Wake Up begins with crunchy arena-rock guitars and settles into a bouncy garage soul revival. Win Butler and Régine Chassagne's call-and-response vocals turn surrealist stories of shattered homes, sneaking into bedrooms and running wild during blackouts into rallying cries. The Arcade Fire are incendiary and unabashedly emotional but avoid the maudlin pitfalls that mar, say, Bright Eyes. In the process, they've created what stands as one of the year's best albums.