Thoughts On Arcade Fire's Neon Bible

The record opens with "Black Mirror," a song we've all heard by now. This is about as perfect as "Needle In The Camel's Eye" launching Brian Eno's Here Come The Warm Jets. Heard on its own, I was underwhelmed, but at the start of this 11-song collection, it all makes sense. "Keep The Car Running" is a song that offers enough pop construction to make the die-hard devotees of their previous material bite their lips in uncertainty. Several people have already heard only this track, and have said, "Yeah, well, I don't know...I wasn't all that blown away." The title-track, "Neon Bible," is a dark ditty that lyrically carries the record's theme from hereonin, bringing the wavering string and female backing vocals in and out in the distance. Cruise control...

"Intervention"...Yes! Now we are getting somewhere! Give me pipe organs or give me death! Give me sardonic Jesus-wept poetry or give m Sufjan (a.k.a. death)! Bring on the dark cloak of sound. Bring on...

..."Black Wave / Bad Vibrations" .::. This is, undoubtedly, a pure Arcade Fire song. Self-production rings the loudest on this track, which resonates the most grandoise moments of Funeral, while raising the bar on all levels of composition. First track on the record to induce chills, as well...

"Ocean Of Noise" is one many of you may have heard by now. Something about it makes me think of Nick Cave. I think it's fairly obvious - one has to appreciate the way this band can craft a swelling, fairly anti-climactic song with a slower tempo and never lose a breath of interest. Dodging into "The Well & The Lighthouse" is a great pick-up, which is definitely going to be an overlooked track for the record. The remix potential is the most prominent part of the track, which will hopefully bring it into the foreground. "(Antichrist Television Blues)" is probably the least impressive on the record. I think the feeling is there, but if anything it makes way for dead stop which carries a silence leading into the gorgeous, folk gem "Windowsill." More chills. "I don't want to live in my father's house no more..."

Though the most memorable track of Arcade Fire's EP was "Headlights Look Like Diamonds," the simple and gorgeous "No Cars Go," was a close runner-up. Making its return, the track appears towards the end of Neon Bible with fuller production and several more layers. It's stronger, and carries the sentiment of the band's original integrity into their new sound. Fucking awesome. (Give it two minutes, you'll see.)

So, who here likes Tom Waits? "My Body Is A Cage" takes first place as the lyrical diamond of this record. Slow and haunting - "My body is a cage / that keeps me dancing from the one I love / but my mind holds the key" - the organs return with a chorus of candlelight and muffled drums of cunning offense. Gothic and epic on its own, and a perfect track to lead you into the final notes of the record.

Keep in mind, everyone that I - and probably you - know that got sucked deep into their last LP knows it takes a few listens. Like love, the steady, patient build is the most intricate and lasting. Let this one sweep you away.

Release date: March 6, 2007
Label: Merge Records

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