One of the only bands to win an Album of the Year Grammy and still feel like underdogs, Arcade Fire have been a runaway success since their 2004 debut, Funeral, brought big and sincere arena-rock ideals to the "indie" world -- which quickly became the dominating force in alternative rock. All it took was the booming echo of six Montreal denizens who make a tidy but undeniably beautiful racket. While big-thinking indie mavens like Neutral Milk Hotel and The Flaming Lips preceded them, peers like Sufjan Stevens and Broken Social Scene also helped usher in this lushly produced, large-ensemble rock, which is now the default for critical success (see: The National, Frightened Rabbit, The Airborne Toxic Event, Youngblood Hawke and The Naked and Famous).
Even acts as unlikely as Matchbox Twenty ("How Far We've Come") and Matisyahu ("Breathe Easy") have assimilated Arcade Fire's anthemic atmospherics into recent tunes. Mumford and Sons' "The Cave" applies their widescreen approach to emotional folk rock, while Springsteen and Bowie, two of Arcade Fire's biggest influences, now coexist with their maximized approach. The amazing thing about big-thinking underdogs is they always sound like they're just getting started; new double album Reflektor is merely the tip of an iceberg that's still creeping into view.