Monday, August 20, 2007

Arcade Fire: Neon Bible review

Neon Bible
The Arcade Fire
Sonovox Records
Release Date: March 6th

It’s a wonder that Arcade Fire survived these last few years. After their full-length debut Funeral received nods from David Bowie and U2, the group’s popularity skyrocketed, propelling them to “hesitant poster-children of indie rock” status. Tour dates were sold out, the venues became bigger, and ostentatious college kids across the country had found their fix.

Managing, however, to escape with dignity fully intact, they proceeded to hide away in a Quebec church to record their next album, Neon Bible, a lush and atmospheric marvel that sees the band expanding further on its diverse instrumentation, and featuring all the somber mindset and cryptic lyricism you’ve come to expect from these folks.

Opener and first single “Black Mirror” is classic AF, with angrily-strummed acoustic chords, steady percussion, and quirky background piano flourishes, all set against some paranoid, apocalyptic poetry. “Keep the Car Running” is strikingly bright, with its John Mellencamp-meets-The Cars vibe, and the title track, a pointed critique of modern organized religion, is the album’s quiet diamond.

The major standouts here are “Intervention,” an organ-filled heartbreaker about a soldier’s futile war, and “The Well and the Lighthouse,” which sees the band seamlessly blending almost endless layers of instruments, eventually segueing into a 1950s teen idol ballad tempo.

Neon Bible contains few surprises; if you didn’t like Funeral, you’re not going to like this one. Arcade Fire is one of those rare bands that can take you to heaven just as easily as to hell. I suggest you follow them.

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