Label: Merge Records
Release Date: March 6, 2007
After near-universal praise of their breakthrough album, I still wasn't sold. Despite some magnificent high points, Funeral just didn't add up to much for me. Luckily, the band's new album, Neon Bible, strengthens their sound and ups the drama that was lying just below the surface for much of Funeral.
A concept album aligned directly to the post-Bush American landscape (i.e. the same territory that most concept albums of the past few years have been treading), Neon Bible evokes feelings of suffocation, fear, and even hope (just listen to the whizzing ebullience of No Cars Go). Not only that, but the record is also full of songs that are meatier and better constructed than those on Funeral. Nearly every track is a winner, and more importantly, they bleed into one another and form a cohesive statement. This is Arcade Fire with their guns blazing. From the stark desolation of the title track to the stomping giddiness of Keep The Car Running, the songs run the emotional (and sonic) gamut. Best of all, though, is Bible's final salvo. A trio of songs (the aforementioned No Cars Go, the gently striking Windowsill, and the epic My Body Is A Cage) display the band at their peak. My Body Is A Cage ("that keeps me dancing with the one I love"), in particular, is singer Win Butler at his most over-the-top, with organs, choirs of haunted souls and crashing drums echoing his frantic refrain.
With Neon Bible, The Arcade Fire have justified their place as the next big thing, and have managed to create a work that will no doubt transcend the age that it so cleverly depicts. With its string sections, glockenspiels, and accordions, it doesn't sound like many rock and roll albums out there. But, don't be fooled because the energy and the spirit is there… this is definitely rock and roll. B+
Key Tracks: No Cars Go, Keep The Car Running, Windowsill