Arcade Fire
Neon Bible


5.0
classic

Review

by Alxander18 USER (5 Reviews)
April 20th, 2011 | 27 replies | 4,675 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I'm gonna work it out.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

There's no mistaking it; Arcade Fire have been huge from the start. When you get an endorsement from David Bowie, you're bound to go places. They created waves when they released Funeral, which many consider to be one of the best indie records of the last decade. When they released The Suburbs after this record, they were launched into the mainstream, making a huge upset at the Grammys for best album of the year. It was a great moment, because Arcade Fire never compromised their vision or musical integrity; I can't remember another band as unique as this one worming its way into the public consciousness in a long time (Radiohead comes to mind.)

With Neon Bible, Arcade Fire returned with an album that was thematically richer and more bitter, and much more universal than the personal tragedy that binded the transcendence of Funeral. A main theme in Butlers lyricism took root in this album, that was continued on The Suburbs: Butler is defending himself in the only way he knows, by the act of creation, just almost escaping an apocalyptic and hopeless world by riding the cresting waves of exultant climax that eventually blow apart almost every track here. This is a bracingly desperate call to arms, and Butler is trying his hardest. Yes, the songs are absolutely huge and grandiose, and the reasoning is stunningly obvious: it's an earth-shatteringly big album because it wants to do just that; it wants to destroy all the shackles of personal and political oppression, so it plays its ace card straight, and doesn't give a ***. Though it would be undone by the wounded barbs Butler wails at his detractors during The Suburbs, during Neon Bible Arcade Fire want to change the world and realize they can't, so they choose to rebel: they're ***ing loud and passionate, and Butlers voice is beautifully ugly and frail, and Arcade Fire care just as much about the message as they do about the music. Except, in retrospect, after a listen of The Suburbs, Butler defending it seems to somehow tarnish it, and in a contradiction strengthen it: Win Butler is still singing about himself after all.

That's to say, the bombardment the music displays doesn't need to grow on you, but this album demands repeated listens to grasp all of its emotional subtext; it may seem hopeless, but on further listens, its redemptive. On "(Anti-christ Television Blues)", Butler spins a tale about a father exploiting his daughter's musical ability to gain happiness, but this isn't a character piece. This is the harshest self-effacing moment of the album, as the singer realizes he is using his talents as an escape. His panicked yelp at the song's culmination of "Tell me Lord, am I the Antichrist?!" is a heartbreaking cry for acceptance and understanding, an anxious plea for people to understand why this album is the way it is. "The Well and The Lighthouse" is an even more nervous yet scathing explanation, Butler condemning his means of escape as a crime, and stating there is no escape at all. And it's convincing. But listen to the final two tracks. "No Cars Go" is the embodiment of an escape fantasy, with a musical accompaniment that is rightfully out of this world large, and then "My Body Is A Cage" brings it back down to Earth. Butler can't save a world trapped in moral decline and fatigue when he is himself trapped. But you have to listen to him wail that line so convincingly, "Set my body free!!!." A choir enters like angels singing and the music is free and to the heavens above.

Of course, the stupendous power of emotion displayed would really not be worth much without worthy music to dress itself up in. Arcade Fire absolutely come through in this aspect, delivering an orchestral medly of gorgeous bombast. The opening and closing tracks are purposely polar opposites: "Black Mirror" is hazy and lacksadaisacal, while "My Body Is A Cage" is at first claustrophobic and then explodes, ringing out cleanly. Though it all sounds unbearably heavy, the music makes it an enjoyable listen. "Keep The Car Runnin'" is a sprightly indie-pop number with an infectious tambourine (I could be wrong) in the background. "Neon Bible" creaks and hums softly, shuttering by quickly as an enjoyable respite. "Ocean of Noise" starts with a decidedly Radiohead feel, a meandering and melancholy riff eventually accompanied by deep piano, and ends gloriously as Arcade Fire, all swelling violins and beautiful harmonizing between Butler and Regina Chassagne. Every track displays a masterful mesh of indie, alternative, pop, and baroque orchestral music.

Neon Bible is perfect in a way rarely seen; its theme and music go hand in hand flawlessly, and the band never have a misstep. Yes, it can seem relentless, but how else can you be when you're trying to change the world?


user ratings (1989)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • UnPleb (4.5)
    In their second full-length album Arcade Fire goes to even bigger sound, which results an ...

    Chunky97 (4.5)
    ...

    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...

    Andrew H. EMERITUS (4)
    The Arcade Fire follow up their debut with an album that is even more grandiose. Although ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Alxander18
April 20th 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

eh. probably overblown, but this album means more to me than any other.

dimsim3478
April 20th 2011



4716 Comments


Fantastic review! You got all your points perfectly and kept the interest of the reader (well, at least this reader) throughout with a wide vocabulary and natural transition of topics.

Pos'd.

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Alxander18
April 20th 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks a lot man, I really appreciate it. I was worried it would seem too defensive of a review, I'm glad it isn't seen as that.

letsgofishing
April 20th 2011



900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Everything Arcade fire Does Iz a MASTERPIECE!!!!

Digging: Kayo Dot - Choirs of the Eye

Alxander18
April 20th 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nope, but pretty close imo. This is their only true masterpiece for me.

mvood
April 20th 2011



818 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a really great review, pos'd!

Antichrist Television Blues is the best song they've written imo



Alxander18
April 20th 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for the pos man, I appreciate it. Antichrist Television Blues is tied with My Body Is A Cage for best Arcade Fire song imo.

scissorlocked
April 20th 2011



3508 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review man

grandiosity is what I like so much in this

No cars Go is probably one of the best songs they've written

Digging: John Roberts - Ausio

Steoandnoodles
April 20th 2011



2832 Comments


No Cars Go is insane but I prefer Keep The Car Running. =)

scissorlocked
April 20th 2011



3508 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

we can keep on with the rest of the album!

Steoandnoodles
April 20th 2011



2832 Comments


Haha, oh yeah. =)
A great collection of song overall.

letsgofishing
April 20th 2011



900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dude, despite my sarcastic slightly rude response earlier..this is a really well done review. Best review I've read from you so far. Take a POS. Awesome write....



conradtao
Emeritus
April 20th 2011



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review! It's always nice to read reviews that express genuine love for the music.

Alxander18
April 20th 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

letsgofishing, I knew you were being sarcastic haha. And thanks to all you guys. Did anyone happen to watch the livestream of Coachella of these guys? It was incredible.

iFghtffyrdmns
April 20th 2011



7047 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Butlers" in the second paragraph should be possessive.

Other than that, fantastic review. No cars go is definitely my favorite off this record, mainly cause Mike Mo used that song in his Fully Flared video and then just tore shit up... awesome.

NeutralThunder12
April 20th 2011



8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

boy, does funeral make this look like shit

Maniac!
April 20th 2011



26246 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

just downloaded their discog. Funeral is pretty cool.

BigHans
April 20th 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Funeral is better but Keep the Car Running and Intervention are epic songs

Itwasthatwas
April 20th 2011



760 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I agree with the reviewer, this is by far their best

Pyosisified
April 20th 2011



2450 Comments


funeral is miles better



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