Wednesday, February 28, 2007

They're singing hallelujah

When Montreal's Arcade Fire released their debut Funeral in the fall of 2004, the collective blogosphere nearly imploded with rapture. It was supposed to be about death, but sounded like a celebration and stands as one of those rare albums that doesn't tire the ear a couple years later. It also both showed band's promise and delivered upon said promise all at once, leaving little doubt that they'd forged a sound that will last. As such, there sophomore release doesn't have to live up to it, just has to reference it and expand, and that's just what Neon Bible does, however, taking it's cues from darker territory.

Album: Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

The story goes that the band purchased an old church just outside Montreal, and set it up as a studio to record this follow up. Much U2 with the castle they recorded in for Unforgettable Fire, this setting becomes a character in the songs and the band itself, throughout the album. The sound of expansive ceilings, booming pipe organs, and a choir-like backing are especially apparent on the song "Intervention," which seemingly turns the tables on this setting:
Been working for the church while your life falls apart
They're singing hallelujah when defeating your heart
Every spark of friendship and love will die without a home
Hear the soldier groan all quiet and alone
Later on, in another album highlight, Win Butler takes on the persona of Joe Simpson (that's right, Jessica and Ashley's dad) with the song "(Antichrist Television Blues)," which is ripe with Bruce Springsteen-like lyrics like "Any idea where i was at your age? I was workin' downtown for the minimum wage." But back to Simpson:
Dear God, I'm a good Christian man
I'm your boy, i know you understand
That you gotta work hard and you gotta get paid
The girl's thirteen, but she don't act her age
She can sing like a bird in cage
Oh Lord, if you could see her when she's up on that stage
Another song that works tremendously is "Ocean of Noise," which shuffles it's feet through a dark and loungey stroll until it resolves to a brighter refrain and the Spanish horns come in and joy is restored. It's all quite moving, and a week early to boot.

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Shawn Anderson said...

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

1. Black Mirror
2. Keep The Car Running
3. Neon Bible
4. Intervention
5. Black Wave / Bad Vibrations
6. Ocean Of Noise
7. The Well And The Lighthouse
8. (Antichrist Television Blues)
9. Windowsill
10. No Cars Go
11. My Body Is A Cage

Anonymous said...

Just experienced Arcade Fire in Wash, DC on Friday 5/4. What a powerful show! Just like their onstage glowing Neon Bible, this concert was a page turner - each song was better than the next.

Shawn Anderson said...

could you turn pages on that glowing bible, I wonder?

every AF show I've been to has been a religious experience, and each one has me sitting further and further away from the stage. it would be nice to see them in a church-like setting, as they were doing earlier.