Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

The sophomore album is a true test of a bands merit. This is especially true of bands that have a first album that is both critically acclaimed and well received by the public. All the hype about the first album was boiled down to this band squeezed on the stage of Arlene’s Grocery in New York City. The bombardment of drums, guitars, violins, organs, and god knows what else propelled the spirit of rock, art and passion inside the hearts of the listeners, not the mention their first album, funeral, was near perfect.

That was in 2004, and not a peep came out except for cryptic banners on such websites like pitchforkmedia.com about something called Neon Bible. There was even a phone number to call. The band was slowly preparing the world for second masterpiece.

Neon Bible opens up much differently then funeral’s captivating build up. Black Mirror starts with some sonic pulse and then slams you with dark militant drums and seductivly angry vocals. As the song climaxes Win Butler and Regine Chassagne raise their voice as they count up French. Welcome to Neon Bible.

As the album progresses it builds in and out of darker and softer tempos. Using crescendos to swell the music in a witches melting pot, they brew worldly troubles, personal gripes and a search for something else. Black Wave / Bad Vibrations serves as an simple example of this point when they break off a with a light percussion build and Win slams in with his distressed vocals that shortly after get accented by Regine’s haunting vocals. The album continues into Ocean of Noise that could be the Rebellion (Lies) of this album.

(Antichrist Television Blues) and Windowstill take the most dramatic and forward target at the media and the general culture of America and the world. Parts from (Antichrist Television Blues) tackle the culture we’re surrounded in.

Cause the planes keep crashing always two by two
I don't wanna work in a building downtown
No I don't wanna see when the planes hit the ground

Their ability to tackle sensitive subject matter in a pure human fear musically and lyrically is unparalleled. The song continues telling the story of a God fearing man who’s little girl is going to be a star of television. Win cleverly uses a familiar child’s song to calm the listener with something both familiar and sends the message home in a more disturbing aspect.

So you better just stay close and hold onto me
If my little mocking bird don't sing
Then daddy won't buy her no diamond ring

The song ends with Win yelling “Oh, tell me Lord, Am I the Anti-christ!?” There are some fairly strong messages interweaved into Neon Bible and most of them aren’t pretty.

At the end of the journey they treat you to My Body is a Cage that captivates everything in the desperation of Win’s vocals and the drawn out organ chords. It’s the ultimate expression of beauty and oppressing fear that the entire album represents.

Comparing the album to Funeral doesn’t give it enough justice, this album can stand on it’s own. Mediocrity is unacceptable for bands who are capable of greatness. The Arcade Fire is not a trend, it’s not something that will be going away. These Canadians are original, talented, passionate, smart and are a breath of fresh air in the current music scene.


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