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★★★★★

“Arcade Fire should feel pretty pleased with...”

Written on: 03/12/2007 by mr underhill (4 reviews written)

Good Points
With this their second album they've not only delivered something equally special as their debut, but have surpassed even themselves.

General Comments
Arcade Fire should feel pretty pleased with themselves. Not only are they one of the most universally acclaimed bands around today, but they are one of the rare few that can genuinely lay claim to doing something different. An unconventional blend of twanging guitars, dischorded harmonicas, creaking accordions, clanking pianos and quivering, sometimes even shrieking, vocals, they manage to sound both really old and completely new.

Perhaps unsurprisingly considering the title, Neon Bible thematically revolves around religious faith. But, being the Arcade Fire, this isn't exactly Songs of Praise, but more like Songs of Disillusionment. In true blue 21st century style Neon Bible laments the daily grind of everyday life, social constriction and in light of this, the lack of comfort offered by 'The Good Book'. There's a cynicism scattered throughout. This is never more clear than in tracks like Neon Bible (Not much chance for survival/If the Neon Bible is true'). Skip to Intervention, one of the many highlight tracks, and front-man Win Butler cries desperately: 'Working for the Church while your life falls apart/Sing in Hallelujah with fear in your heart'. In the folksy Antichrist Television Blues; we hear the prayers of 'God-fearing man' ('Lord would you send me a sign/Cause I've just gotta know if I'm wasting my time). If you hadn't guessed already, one can assume Arcade Fire will be leaving the love songs to less conscientious bands, as they've got other things on their mind. Neon Bible isn't only a statement about an alienating religion, but also a cry out against the culture that upholds it. Windowsill, another slow-building lament, says this loud and clear: ('Don't wanna fight in a holy war/Don't want the salesman knocking at my door/ Don't wanna live in America no more') But strangely, all this nihilism rarely makes for depressing listening. Quite the opposite in fact, listening to new material by the Arcade Fire is simply riveting. Adding yet another unconventional instrument to their repertoire of wistful violins and full- blown brass bands that have you weeping and stomping your boots in equal measure, we get the slow, powerful blast of a church organ thrown in the eclectic mix with magnificent results. Neon Bible is not only grander than its morbidly named predecessor, Funeral, but also more captivating. This is never more the case as the album reaches its climax with No Cars Go. Uplifting and gleeful, if there was ever a song to get you joining hands with complete strangers and skipping out into the street to, this is it, a theory the band have tested on more than one occasion.

Neon Bible is one of those rare albums, intimate, epic, poetic and absolutely unforgettable.

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