Monday, January 22, 2007


Neon Bible

The Arcade Fire
Neon Fire
(Merge Records)

Arcade Fire’s rapturous debut was titled Funeral but it’s actually their newest release Neon Bible that sounds like death. From the opening song “Black Mirror” until the concluding “My Body Is A Cage”, the Montreal collective effectively inspires a feeling of ominous gloom. It’s possible that this band even has crossover potential in the Goth market. But regardless of their frequent references to mortality, depravity, and war, Neon Bible is an inspiring record. Elaborate orchestration and a seemingly towering church organ (which plays prominently on “Intervention”) create an oceanic largeness that could almost put the ears in risk of drowning. And while in the past many have solely attributed the Arcade Fire’s unrestrained art-rock to the Davids’ (Bowie and Byrne) respective influences, this record commendably broadens the palette borrowing from the zany angularity of the B-52’s (“Black Wave/Bad Vibrations”), the poetic misery of Nick Cave (“Ocean of Noise”) or, yes, even the hoarse protest of Bruce Springsteen (“Antichrist Television Blues”). Toward the end of Neon Bible, during a reworked version of the Arcade Fire’s “No Cars Go” (which initially appeared on the band’s debut EP), singer Win Butler yelps, “let’s go,” but warns a few seconds later, “Don’t know where we’re going.” Nevertheless, the journey's worthwhile even when it sounds as menacing as this.


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