100 Best Debut Albums of All Time

From the Beatles to Nas and beyond

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Courtesy of Merge Records15/100

15. 'Funeral' 

Arcade Fire
Merge 2004

Loss, love, forced coming-of-age and fragile generational hope: Arcade Fire's debut touched on all these themes as it defined the independent rock of the '00s. The Montreal band made symphonic rock that truly rocked, using accordions and strings as central elements rather than merely as accessories, with a rhythm section that never let up. Songs like "Wake Up," "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" and "Rebellion (Lies)" were simultaneously outsize and deeply personal, like the best pop. But for all its sad realism – "I like the peace in the backseat," sings Régine Chassagne at the album's end, knowing the sense of security is utterly false – this was music that still found solace, and purpose, in communal celebration.

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