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Neon Bible

Arcade Fire

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iTunes Review

Neon Bible is a dystopian work for dystopian times. In the two and a half years since Funeral, their universally beloved debut, Arcade Fire has turned their attention outward rather than in, and they don’t like what they see: bombs, monster waves, water swirling up to the windowsill. “I don’t want to fight in a holy war / I don’t want the salesmen knocking at my door / I don’t want to live in America no more,” sings the expatriate Win Butler, sounding very much like that uber-American, Bruce Springsteen. Like Springsteen, Arcade Fire is willing to risk a little melodrama on their way to sonic grandeur. Luckily, their scruffy indie-orchestral aesthetic (featuring hurdy-gurdy, accordion, layered horns, droning guitars and processed strings, all played with an endearing, disheveled enthusiasm) keeps the bombast from getting too thick. And though the arrangements are busier than ever, the songwriting is actually more disciplined; Neon Bible’s songs are tense and explosive, but they stay away from easy catharsis. The most memorable moments here offer not release, but variations on dread: the sorrowful mariachi horns closing “Ocean of Noise”; a wall of white noise like surf or distant thunder, announcing the queasy, pounding two-chord opener of “Black Mirror.” The exception is “No Cars Go,” an older song that here sounds almost redemptive — a welcome return of the loopy, polyphonic idealism that made Funeral such a blast. Us kids know, indeed.

Customer Reviews

Better than Funeral

Arcade Fire's debut album, Funeral, is an album hard to surpass. However, I think this lush, atomspheric album may have succeeded in doing that. This album is gripping; it's a work that's hard to listen to in pieces. 1) "Black Mirror" sets the tone for the rest of the album with very dark lyrics like "Mirror, mirror on the wall/Show me where the bombs will fall." 2) "Keep the Car Running" is a much more upbeat song - probably the most upbeat one on the album. 3) "Neon Bible" is a slow-paced track, and while it doesn't shift in pace at any point in the song, it should not be labeled as "filler." 4) "Intervention" continues the dark trend with an organ at the beginning of the song. And of course, when I think organ, I think of a creepy horror film in a rustic, old church (The band actually recorded this album in a renovated church). 5) "Black Waves / Bad Vibrations" begins with Regine Chassange's (the female vocalist) Bjorkish vocals, only to lead into Win Butler's (the male vocalist) part of the song. 6) "Ocean of Noise" is of course, still dark, the song begins with the sound of a storm and the sound of the song gives off the feeling of desperation. 7) "The Well and the Lighthouse," like "Keep the Car Running" is one of only a select few that have a mroe upbeat feeling. 8) "(Antichrist Television Blues)" keeps the upbeat momentum of "The Well and the Lighthouse," but the lyrics tell a much different tale. Instead, Win cries out please to God. 9) "Windowsill" returns to the dark sound at the core of the album and the lyrics, like in the rest of the album, reflect that dark mood as tells that "you can't forgive what you can't forget." 10) "No Cars Go" is a fantastic rework of the original song. If you have to choose between the original one that appeared on their self-titled debut EP or the Neon Bible rework, go with the rework. 11) "My Body is a Cage" puts Win's strength in vocals to the test as a large part of the song is simply his voice. This song is a great capper for the album as it shows what I think Win's insecurities prevent him from doing. However, you can try to figure out his meaning here as he cries out, "My body is a cage/That keeps me from dancing with the one I love." Don't pass this album up if you're not convinced on the first listen. This is a very layered and dense album that will grow on you. Like I said before, this is an album that was meant to be listened to as a whole. But if you need to go to a few songs to get you into the album, here are my suggestions: "Keep the Car Running" "Intervention" "Ocean of Noise" "No Cars Go"

Brilliant! One of the best follow-up efforts ever!

Neon Bible is a dark album filled with haunting melodies, heavy religious imagery, and dark themes sung in uplifting melodies. The album is unsettling yet fulfilling on every level. Neon Bible starts out with Black Mirror. It creates an atmospheric opener that shows us the sharp wit and dark undertones we found in the previous album. That builds to a familiar yet unsettling crescendo. Keep The Car Running kicks into the quirky, yet up melodies we found on Funeral (Tunnels / Rebellion). Neon Bible (the title track) is one of the darkest songs on the album. Like some kind of lullaby sung to a evil child, it pulls you in due to the vocals and odd cellos that fill the aural space. Intervention, the “single” off the album has a Pogue’s like “Thousands Are Sailing” feel but with a uniquely euro-folk theme that growns with intensity as the song rolls into a full steam by the 1st bridge. Black Wave/Bad Vibrations is one of the weaker songs on the album. Its odd vocals and dyslexic melodies don’t satisfy as well as other tracks on the album. It feels unfinished and feels like it was thrown together from two different songs that had no home. Ocean of Noise reminds me of Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf) by the Pixies. With it’s slow plodding surf vocals and surf guitar riff (ala Santo and Johnny Sleepwalk) the Fire goes musically goes into new areas on this one and it works. The Well and The Lighthouse offers us a satisfying song. Laden with intricate bass rifs and percussion and bell melodies it takes us on a ride to familiar yet new territories. The hooky cello bridge really pulls the song together. This song is a must for any roadtrip mix this summer. Antichrist Television Blues seems to be something between an homage to Bob Dylan and an angry letter to an ex-girlfriend regarding career paths and religious beliefs. This one will take awhile to grow on me. Windowsill is a song to watch the rain fall and reflect back on who we are and what is important to us in our lives. No Car Go was released on a earlier EP. This revved up version is nice for those who don’t know the original but the production value does not add much to one of my favorite singles from the past few years. Another summer road trip mix must! My Body Is A Cage is a mix of early gospel with a Tom Waits edge. It’s heart beat rhythm and heavy pipe organ that grows and grows until it fills every corner of the room with faith, penance, guilt and hope. It brings this aural version of a Sunday confessional to a satisfying end. If the Fires were looking to explore new territories, they succeeded and succeeded well.

It’s different; and just as good as Funeral.

You, me, and the whole world fell in love with Funeral (a.k.a. The Album to Beat in 2004) and that’s why we’re here right now after two years of waiting. First thing's first: Neon Bible is not Funeral, and that should be enough to satisfy any fan. Early on, we were treated to enticing hints such as “Hungarian orchestra”, “military choir”, and (of course) “pipe organ”. They’re all here to create a darker, more contemplative record than Funeral could have ever hoped to be. Whether or not it’s better should be left to you. Neon Bible is going to be alternative music’s great gothic opera; “Black Mirror” is the driving introduction that paves the way for the rest of the record. You can even hear act divisions in “Black Wave / Bad Vibrations”—at about the 1:40 mark the song breaks apart from Regine’s narrative to Win’s, complete with tempo and mood change. “Ocean of Noise” is the highlight of Neon Bible for me (scratch that, the entire album is a highlight); and it shows how far Arcade Fire has come musically, lyrically, and even in terms of atmosphere and ambiance. Beginning with a rumble of thunder and about 3 minutes of brooding bass and juxtaposed melodies, the song suddenly erupts into the Hungarian orchestra brass at the end. (Now who here among us / still believes in choice? / Not I...No way of knowing what any man will do / An ocean of violence / between me and you / You've got your reasons / and me, I've got mine...We're going to work it out.) It sounds like a celebration, but it's difficult to say what for. And if you think you know “No Cars Go” from their first EP, think again (the new recording is unbelievable). “Keep the Car Running” will probably be the most familiar track to old fans. Every single member of the band can be heard in the song and, after two years, it is so good to have them back. Ok, I could do this all day long and for each song...enough of this: you better be on track three by now.

Biography

Formed: June, 2003 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A combination of indie rock muscle and theatrical, unapologetic bombast turned Arcade Fire into indie royalty in the early 2000s. Originally comprised of Régine Chassagne, Richard Parry, Tim Kingsbury, and brothers William and Win Butler, the group formed during the summer of 2003, after Win spotted Chassagne singing jazz standards at a Montreal art exhibit. The grandson of famed swing-era bandleader Alvino Rey, Win was quickly charmed by Chassagne's performance, leading the two to launch a songwriting...
Full Bio

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