RE: The new Arcade Fire album, Neon Bible. I think it’s OK. I especially like Track 7. I do not want to have sex with this record, nor do I want to put it on my top ten albums of 2007. Let’s look at the Pitchfork review and laugh (note: entire review is too long and boring to quote here, so I took out snippets):
On Neon Bible, the band looks outward instead of inward, their concerns more worldly than familial, and their sound more malevolent than cathartic. Angry, embittered, and paranoid, but often generously empathetic in their points of view, they target the government, the church, the military, the entertainment industry, and even the basest instincts of the common man.
If Funeral captured the enormity of personal pain, Neon Bible sounds large enough to take on the whole world.
OK, with the first track, I’m excited … and then it continues on … and I hear the lyrics “Mirror, mirror on the wall / Show me where them bombs will fall” and I have to cringe.
These songs don’t erupt, but gradually crescendo and intensify. Unlike the cathartic Funeral, Neon Bible operates on spring-loaded tension and measured release.
The influences most commonly associated with Funeral were Davids Byrne and Bowie, but on Neon Bible, it’s Bruce Springsteen who appears not only in the wordy songs and aggressive shuffle, but in the compression of so many styles and sounds into one messy, exciting burst.
Translation: a lot of noise.
OK, now let’s look at the Washington City Paper review and, hi, Aaron Leitko? Will you marry me?
As “No Cars Go,” the penultimate track on Arcade Fire’s second album, crests its orchestral wave, vocalist Win Butler calls out to his audience: “Little babies, let’s go!” Your spine will tingle. Your eyes might water. But 10 minutes later, you’ll probably think, Babies? Neon Bible is the Titanic of indie-rock records: the Montreal collective employs what sounds like a Hollywood budget’s worth of choirs, orchestras, hand-claps, and hurdy-gurdies, all designed to make you cry like you’ve just seen Leonardo DiCaprio slip into the icy deep. But beneath all the special effects, Titanic was just a mediocre love story, and beneath all of those overdubs, Neon Bible is just a pretty good goth album—imagine 10,000 Maniacs playing Cure songs. “Black Mirror” opens the album with Butler weaving a web of ambiguous dread amid clarinet flourishes and groaning tubas: “I walk down to the ocean/After waking from a nightmare/No moon, no pale reflection,” he sings before reciting the song’s title in a mournful whisper. But where Robert Smith mixed gloomy lyrics and gloomy music and got gloom, Arcade Fire couches its dour sentiments in Broadway bombast and ends up with Meat Loaf. Sometimes this works in its favor. Bat Out of Hell rocked with so much motorcycle- and dragon-driven fury that you could forget how stupid it was, and Neon Bible benefits from the same orchestral shock and awe. On “Intervention,” Butler and his wife, Régine Chassagne, sing lines like “I can taste your fear” with such urgency and passion that you don’t notice it’s the kind of line that usually comes from a teen wearing black lipstick. But Meat Loaf at least had a sense of humor, and Arcade Fire never cracks a smile. Strip away the tubas, the clarinets, and the choirs, and Neon Bible’s music is stuffed with heavy-handed melodrama. Songs like “Keep the Car Running” and “No Cars Go” attempt to channel classic-rock escapism à la Born to Run, but their orchestral bluster is set to contrived slogans.“Every night my dream’s the same/Same old city with a different name/Men are coming to take me away/I don’t know why, but I know I can’t stay,” Butler sings on “Keep the Car Running.” The Boss might have grown up in the burbs, but people loved him because his songs were about running away from the ghetto. Here Butler doesn’t seem at all sure what he’s running from, or why, only that he’s afraid. Accompanied by a pounding rhythm section and an orchestra, Butler can make you feel for a moment that his words actually mean something, but he’s leading a great band that plays mediocre songs.
AHHH PERFECTION IN A REVIEW! I’m in love I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!
Tags: the arcade fire | neon bible | pitchfork media | washington city paper