Arcade Fire
Neon Bible


4.0
excellent

Review

by Andrew H. EMERITUS
February 28th, 2007 | 354 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Arcade Fire follow up their debut with an album that is even more grandiose. Although the songs are excellent, the production is great and the album is very consistent, it occasionally suffers from being too big, loud and dramatic.

Even two and a half years after its release, Funeral is one hell of a debut. Certainly for The Arcade Fire, Funeral's release opened doors that the band probably never thought possible. It made fans of both David Bowie and David Byrne, got them on the front of Time Magazine, scored them numerous spots on television and even helped them gain Grammy nominations. Coldplay's Chris Martin has even called them "the greatest band in history". Two and a half years on, fans are on the edge of their seats with anticipation for the new Arcade Fire record. And so finally, everyone's favourite band from 2004 are back with their sophomore record, Neon Bible.

Following up Funeral was always going to be a daunting task. After all, Funeral often reached epic proportions, songs like "Rebellion (Lies)" or "Wake Up" being prime examples. In fact, one has to wonder how you can follow up such an album. In this case, The Arcade Fire have made the record sound even more enormous. Almost every song is drenched with reverb and sounds as big as you can possibly imagine. Funeral's strongest point, however, was always the simple fact that it was an album of great songs. So the real question, at this point, is "are the songs as good as they were on Funeral?" The simple answer is, well...yeah, they basically are.

Neon Bible, in some ways, is just the sort of sophomore record you'd expect. The band have harnessed their gift for songwriting and as a result, the album is much more consistent. The highs aren't as high as they were in Funeral and the lows are certainly not as low. A few songs do stand out, but not to the same extent. As an album, Neon Bible is arguably a grander, far more dramatic statement, which is a very good thing in this case. The songs have a similar sense of melancholy to those on Funeral and while the lyrics are not exactly optimistic ("Working for the church while your family dies") or hopeful ("Now who here among us/still believes in choice/not I"), when coupled with the musical arrangements, they have a way of bringing an uplifting warmth to the listener.

The Arcade Fire have occasionally been classified as 'baroque pop' or 'what pop would sound like in the 1800s'. The idea certainly seems to have merit here, with songs such as "Intervention" or "My Body is a Cage" that make serious use of the pipe organ as a main instrument. That's not to mention the strings that are featured on nearly every song, as well as the occasional brass instruments. That's not to say that every song takes such an approach. Lead single "Keep the Car Running" is fairly standard indie-rock song (albeit with a great deal of stringed instruments) that, placed perfectly as track 2, is a beautifully catchy and (at its core) simple song. "(Antichrist Television Blues)" is similar and with lyrics about working blue-collar jobs, is one of the best Springsteen songs that The Boss never wrote. The highlight, however, comes in the form of the on-the-road anthem "No Cars Go", an old track from the band's early self-titled EP. While it's puzzling as to why they chose to include it here, it benefits from epic production, being one of the album's biggest sounding songs and sounding far more full of life than it did in its original incarnation. Not without some small problems, however, Neon Bible's biggest failing is that every single song on the album is loud, epic and dramatic. It's a certainty that some listeners will find themselves pining for the simplicity of "Une Année Sans Lumiere" or "Neighbourhood #4 (& Kettles)". The big sound definitely wears thin when there's nothing subtle, simple or quiet to balance it out.

Neon Bible is another impressive piece of work from The Arcade Fire. It's about as good as Funeral and features some truly wonderful songs; although The Arcade Fire have certainly progressed, Neon Bible features everything that made them special in the first place, to even more epic proportions. However, when their second album is this grandiose, one has to wonder where they can go from here.

Pros
Consistent album
Fantastic songs
Extremely impressive arrangements

Cons
Too grand, epic and dramatic at times
The big sound is never balanced with anything quiet

Recommended Songs
Keep the Car Running
Black Wave/Bad Vibrations
No Cars Go

Final Rating: 4/5



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user ratings (2029)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • ugh pop punk i'm not hong (4.5)
    In their second full-length album Arcade Fire goes to even bigger sound, which results an ...

    Chunky97 (4.5)
    ...

    Alxander18 (5)
    I'm gonna work it out....

    robin EMERITUS (5)
    now who here among us still believes in choice?...

  • Clumpy (5)
    A vial of hope and a vial of pain. . ....

    RMonK (4.5)
    Join the Church of the Arcade Fire, or forever hold your peace......

    Ben (4)
    The Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible" keeps their sound big; however, it suffers from being TOO b...

    JAD (4)
    What do a pipe organ, a military choir, a full hungarian orchestra, and tons of bombast ge...


Comments:Add a Comment 
trustxdialect
February 28th 2007


1502 Comments


Damn, I need this. Fantastic review.

Minor quibbles:

The Arcade Fire have. on occasion,

"are the songs as good as they were onFuneral?"


Otherwise, ace.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2007


2688 Comments


Great work, Aussie. Very thorough and detailed while remaining short and sweet.

pulseczar
March 1st 2007


2385 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review.This has some great songs, but overall lacks the energy and diversity that made them great in the first place. Doesn't hold your attention as well either.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
March 1st 2007


3773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Aha, I just listened today, seems pretty good. But yea, I was planning on reviewing this as well *sigh* I guess us mere mortals will have to wait till release date then =P

Digging: The Flaming Lips - With A Little Help From My Fwends

sgrevs
March 1st 2007


698 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic review, almost my feelings exactly. I actually found that I enjoyed the awesomely semi-raw production on Funeral better, it captured the bands energy a lot more, and was just awesome. I really dig the faster version of No Cars Go though.

Two-Headed Boy
March 1st 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That album art is ass.

Good review. I'll probably get this, but I'm not expecting much.

Release Date: 03/06/2006

Might want to change that.This Message Edited On 03.01.07

The Jungler
March 1st 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This CD, while definitely not as good as Funeral, is pretty great. I pretty much agree with you.
Great review.

Eliminator
March 1st 2007


2067 Comments


I would say that this is just about as good as Funeral.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
March 1st 2007


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice work, this album is very very good. But you're absolutely right about there being no soft to balance out the loud.

Eliminator
March 1st 2007


2067 Comments


There are plenty of soft parts on this album. Funeral seems more dynamic because of the space left between the instruments. Neon Bible is more cluttered so it appears as if everything is loud.

The Jungler
March 1st 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Neon Bible (the song) is just as quiet as anything on Funeral.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The chorus of "neon bible" in the title track is pretty much what I thought of all during 3rd hour today.

samthebassman
March 1st 2007


2164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album lacks the great songs of funeral, it is still a very good album but it isn't a classic as it's predessor was.

MrKite
March 1st 2007


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I want this bad.
Great review. Gave me an idea of what to expect.

ScelusNefas
March 1st 2007


274 Comments


Really nice review, i need this.

descendents1
March 2nd 2007


702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the review is right on

it is not as good as funeral

noooooo way

trustxdialect
March 2nd 2007


1502 Comments


They had a pretty lofty debut to beat. I wouldn't imagine this could be better (although, if they could do it once, they should be good enough to do it again...).

br3ad_man
Emeritus
March 2nd 2007


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Two Headed Boy and trustxdialect for pointing out the typos.

[quote=Eliminator]There are plenty of soft parts on this album. Funeral seems more dynamic because of the space left between the instruments. Neon Bible is more cluttered so it appears as if everything is loud.[/quote]

I dunno man, maybe I'm just not hearing them. I mean, if it's cluttered, then are parts of it really as soft as Funeral? "Neon Bible" is a pretty soft track, but it still isn't anywhere near as bare as "Neighborhood 4". Even if parts of it are softer, it doesn't do much to break things up because it's so thick all the time.

Sepstrup
March 2nd 2007


1563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I just listened to the stream at nme.com. It's definitely a really good album. I'm buying it.

jrowa001
March 2nd 2007


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great album. first one this year that ive gone out and bought before i listened to it first



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