Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Neu Bible


My original attraction to The Arcade Fire came from their Us Kids Know EP blending together perfectly two of my seemingly most incompatible favourite bands. They were symphonic and tender like The Polyphonic Spree, yet ferocious and yelping like the Pixies. Three years later, it's time for their third release and their sound has changed vastly. But anthemic epics like 'Intervention' still carry the same undeniable influences, as the Pixies' squealing guitar meets the Polyphonic Spree's choir. But there's also an obvious - and huge - spiritual element to the band, and this isn't constrained to their punch-the-sky "holy shit, I'm alive!" live show. And while they've made lyrical references to religion before, Sherlock Holmes wouldn't be charging premium rates to figure out that this album was written and recorded in a church. Over half of the album is soaked through with mentions of churches, antichrists, bibles and judgement day, and the whole record carries the aura of a creepy sermon delivered by a demented cryptologist.

Somewhat surprisingly, Neon Bible doesn't feature a Neighbourhood #5, but that's not to say that it doesn't carry forward the spirit of its ancestor. 'Black Mirror' is a murky piece of beauty, furnished with fairground piano and ghostly voices wisping between channels. 'Keep The Car Running' positions itself wonderfully, somewhere between The Spinto Band (assuming they've copyrighted all usage of the mandolin) and Shout Out Louds, yet remains as authentically Arcade Fire as the concept of an tunnel between two bedrooms. The title track is a definite grower; a short, whispered acoustic lullaby with a "don't fuck with us" gang (but still whispered) chorus. 'Ocean of Noise' builds itself into an incredible haunted mariachi waltz and the questionable decision to include a rerecording of 'No Cars Go' results in a no-brainer answer, from its flourishing Disney intro to its spectacular "LET'S GO!" breakdown. And on the album's climatic 'My Body Is A Cage', their newly acquired church organ is further utilised in a dramatic Zombies-esque epic which goes out of its way to successfully secure its place on the tracklisting of every retrospective compilation of "the noughties".

While Funeral sounded like an antique recovered from under the soil of an indefinable era, Neon Bible sounds decidedly modern; even futuristic. If their debut was their celebratory funeral, Neon Bible is their more sombre resurrection. But they are alive, and how they know it.


Pre-order Neon Bible at a discounted rate.. You have three equally-lovely format choices, and you'll also get a poster and other free stuff!


The Daze said...

This is brilliant stuff.

It's darker, I think. Like if Funeral was happy in spite of being sad, then this one is mostly just based around being sad.

But brilliant nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Intervention is an instant masterpiece. I've been listening to the KCRW version for weeks now, but the studio version is even better.