Of all the Indie artists to make it big in the 2000's, one of the most prominent would have to be Arcade Fire. Their 2004 debut "Funeral" is a modern classic that defined the decade; they toured and performed with U2; and they even became the first Indie artist to win Album of the Year at the Grammys (for 2010s "The Suburbs"). Between "Funeral" and "The Suburbs" is 2007's "Neon Bible", Arcade Fire's second (and also acclaimed) album. The album is a drastic departure from the cathartic "Funeral", in that the songs are grander, and more reflective on the state of society.
One of the first things I notice about "Neon Bible" is the production. "Funeral" has more of a "lower quality" sound to it's production, adding to the personal nature of the album. The production in "Neon Bible" sounds very clear, and benefits the worldly nature of the music and lyrics.
Throughout the album are lyrics describing the faults of man and society. The album is full of hopelessness: "Working for the church while your family dies/You take what they give you and you keep it inside"; "It's in the Neon Bible, the Neon Bible/Not much chance for survival". The lyrics are at times a little predictable ("Mirror, mirror on the wall/Show me where them bombs will fall") and at other times, forced ("So down I fell/Down into the water black"). These moments, however, are overshadowed by the amazing moments, with one of my favorites being in "(Antichrist Television Blues)": "Do you know where I was at your age"/Any idea where I was at your age"/I was working downtown for the minimum wage/and I'm not gonna let you just throw it all away!".
Musically, "Neon Bible" never fails to impress me. The orchestra in "Keep the Car Running" creates an amazing, grand atmosphere. The organ in "Intervention" fits with the church theme of the lyrics. The brass ending in "Ocean of Noise" is stunning and beautiful. "(Antichrist Television Blues)"'s Springsteen-influenced sound brings to mind the life of the working class described in the lyrics, and the sweeping orchestral melodies in "No Cars Go" provide the climax for the album.
The artwork for the album is one of my favorites. The album cover is amazing. Kudos to Tracy Maurice and François Miron.
"Neon Bible" is one of my favorite albums right now. It took me a few listens, but after about two or three listens, I started liking "Neon Bible" more and more. It's an amazing achievement musically, and the lyrics are pretty darn close to being their best. While it's not as good as Funeral (a modern classic, in my opinion), it's still an amazing album. "Neon Bible" is essential for any Indie fan, and for any music fan in general. 4.5/5