Posted by: Dave on March 6, 2007 at 12:02 pm

ArcadeFileNeonBibleSound: Grandiose, kitchen-sink orchestrations collide with workmanlike, punk minimalism to create a sound that is both meticulously gorgeous and sloppily raw. Songs build to striking crescendos while adding and subtracting dense layers. In addition to the strings, horns, xylophones and accordions that frequented their debut Funeral (my #5 Album of 2004), they introduce a huge-sounding church organ on a couple tracks. Meanwhile, Win Butler’s shaky vocals plow ahead with sweaty passion as backing vocals and choirs swirl around them.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “Intervention”; “Windowsill”
Medium Rotation tracks: “No Cars Go”; “(Antichrist Television Blues)”; “The Well and the Lighthouse”
Explicit Lyrics*: none
Recommended: The songs on Arcade Fire’s debut were epic, multi-sectioned journeys that were inspiring and musically surprising. On Neon Bible, they maintain the spiritual level and continue to redefine how voices and instruments can converge in a single recording. However, many of these tracks stick with one rhythm and chord progression and fail to develop into meatier songs. The second half of the album is actually more realized than the first.
Grade: B+

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* Noting of explicit lyrics is for the benefit of radio music directors or anyone else that needs/wants to keep their music FCC-friendly.

5 Responses to “Arcade Fire Neon Bible (Merge)”

  1. Drew Says:

    Being a visual-arts guy, I decided to spend the extra few bucks for the deluxe version, thinking I’d get some really nicely designed booklet. I was rewarded with not one, but two flip-books and a vellum sleeve. Whafuh?
    Agreed that overall this doesn’t really match the soulfulness and rousing quality of their debut; and am I crazy or does ‘Keep the Car Running’ sound exactly like Eddie & the Cruisers’ ‘On the Dark Side’?
    I don’t want to say sophomore slump yet, maybe this’ll grow on me. Overall cool and dark, I’m waiting for it to grip me as ‘Funeral’ did.

  2. Dave Says:

    “Keep the Car Running” definitely has an old familiar quality to it. I can hear some of those “On the Darkside” elements.

    I’m not sure if this will ever grip you as much as Funeral did. But it certainly has some moments.

  3. Ben Says:

    Not that it’s their fault, or that it applies to New Music Nation at all, but this band is yet another case of mainstream critics rushing to demonstratively flog an indie band’s underwhelming second album after having overlooked their first. If you’re looking for a really entertaining proof of this concept, go back and look up review for Prince’s Around the World in a Day.

    Speaking of flogging older stuff, did you ever hear that Love is All album? It’s been kicking around Europe for a while and hit America sometime last year. I totally slept on it until I found out that the members used to be in Girlfriendo! The new one is called “Nine Times the Same Song.” I put it on my EOY list for 2006, but it’s been totally dominating my life lately. Really rawkus, loose and fun rock music.

  4. Ben Says:

    Not that Purple Rain was a debut!

    By the way, have I gone on record here with my admiration for that movie. For real, it gets way too much “Hey Remember the 80s” VH1 style tongue-in-cheek treatment. I think it can be enjoyed on its own terms. For one, the music is awesome. Two, Morris Day is hilarious. Three, those handheld shots rushing back and forth through the backstage corridor at the club are great filmmaking. Four, the idea that while life is screwed up and we can’t really do much about it, except feel better by rocking out to killer pop music, is pretty appealing to me.

    For some reason I feel like I’ve burdened you with this spiel before. Let me make it up by posting a link to an entertaining youtube video.

    Here is the best video that’s too awesome, and too obscure, for Hey, Remember the 80s: Freeez’s “I.O.U.”

    White dudes rapping. Old school breakdancers. An army of bicycle riding children wielding mixtapes. The keytar. An Arthur Davis production. The catchiest chorus most people have never heard. And, in a stirring climax, some fresh wax blowing up the spot.

  5. Dave Says:

    Based on your description, I didn’t expect the falsetto crooning. I’ve never heard that song before, but it is excellent.

    Who knew 1983 had two videos/singles with hooks that list the vowels?

    That same year (and into 1984), I must have seen EBN OZN’s “A-E-I-O-U (and Sometimes Y)” 40 times on MTV. You know that one? Check it out:

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