New Arcade Fire song, ‘Abraham’s Daughter,’ arrives online


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A new Arcade Fire song, the first since the band won the album of the year Grammy for its release ‘The Suburbs,’ arrived online this morning in the form of ‘Abraham’s Daughter.’ Taken from the forthcoming soundtrack to the film ‘The Hunger Games,’ which is set to premiere March 23, the song sees the Montreal band meandering in a fascinating new direction.

‘Abraham’s Daughter’ appeared on the website of Entertainment Weekly as an exclusive (though, somewhat mysteriously, the link has now been disabled). In the post, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler discussed the new song, which imagines Abraham from the Old Testament if he’d had a daughter rather than his son, Isaac.


Butler explained that when he was writing ‘Abraham’s Daughter,’ he was looking back to his own days as a teenage fan and the sense of wonder he felt when a great song played a role in a movie. ‘I tried to put myself in the headspace of how excited I’d be if this film was coming out when I was 15. I still remember hearing Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music (for a Film)’ in [Baz Luhrmann’s] ‘Romeo + Juliet’ when I was that age.’

The song sounds little like the Arcade Fire of ‘Funeral,’ or even ‘The Suburbs.’ A 3 1/2-minute march whose focus is a snare pattern suggestive of ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday,’ it features violin player Reginne Chassagne on vocals, which she deliberately and somewhat dispassionately conveys with a straight emotional face. ‘Abraham’s Daughter’ sounds sort of like a lost Fairport Convention recording as performed by a modernist rock band -- with a thick synthesizer floating through the entirety and a feedback-drenched climax.

Those who have followed the band since its rise over the last six years might get a chuckle out of the song’s placement on the ‘Hunger Games’ soundtrack: It’s sandwiched between a new Taylor Swift number, ‘Eyes Wide Open,’ and Kid Cudi’s new ‘The Ruler & the Killer,’ providing yet more evidence that the band has entered the highest realm of pop culture acceptance.

‘The Hunger Games’ has box-office prognosticators going gaga; expectations are incredibly high for the futuristic drama, which is based on a young adult novel of the same name. In it, a competition that pits teenagers battling each other on live television becomes a national phenomenon. The soundtrack was produced by T-Bone Burnett.

The full track list is below.

Taylor Swift – ‘Safe & Sound’ (featuring the Civil Wars)
Taylor Swift - ‘Eyes Wide Open’
Arcade Fire – ‘Abraham’s Daughter’
Kid Cudi - ‘The Ruler & The Killer’
Miranda Lambert - ‘Run Daddy Run’
The Civil Wars - ‘Kingdom Come’
The Decemberists - ‘One Engine’
Glen Hansard - ‘Take The Heartland’
The Low Anthem - ‘Lover Is Childlike’
Punch Brothers – ‘Dark Days’
The Secret Sisters - ‘Tomorrow Will Be Kinder’
Birdy – ‘Just A Game’
Ella Mae Bowen – ‘Oh Come And Sing’
Jayme Dee - ‘Rules’
Carolina Chocolate Drops – ‘Reaping Day’


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-- Randall Roberts