Monday, March 05, 2007

Neon Bible

Two caveats before you read this review:

1 – I just got this album yesterday, and have only listened to it twice (notice, it gets released on the sixth, and I got it the fourth. Cuz I’m COOL).

2 – while I like the arcade fire’s previous release, Funeral, I’m not like their #1 fan, and I’ve not really sat down and obsessed over that record.

That out of the way, I must say that I was all set to hate this record. I like the arcade fire, but their melodramatic, multi-instrumental schtick teeters on the edge of lameness, and I was sort of looking for a reason to finally declare I hated them. But damnit if this album isn’t pretty good. In fact, it contains the same, epic, melodic, joyously sad music that made Funeral so great. Say what you will about the arcade fire, but they got some fire and passion.

A lot of it has to do with lead singer Wll Butler’s beautifully sad voice. And with Chassagne gorgeous alto, which is featured on a track or two, and supports butler’s beautifully on the rest. Also, like Bloc Party, Arcade Fire do a lot to make their music sound vibrant, layered, and alive. They stray from the standard “drum, bass, guitar, keys” formula, including some more esoteric and archaic sounds, but it doesn’t come off as gimmicky.

Whereas “Funeral” was dedicated to the crews’ dead homies and relatives, “neon bible” is a more explicit critique of the west, and is thus more political and less introspective than Funeral. You may or may not be down with this, but they pull it off pretty well, even lines like “Been eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate.”
And then there are lines like the following from Antichrist television blues:
“I don’t wanna work in a building downtown….cause the planes keep crashing always two by two.”
That pretty much sums up the 21st century blues.

So basically, Neon Bible is seventies glam meets eighties new wave meets bruce springsteen. And it is pretty fucking good. Next time someone whines about how lame music is today, put this on and tell him to shut the hell up.


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