Every so often, you hear about a band and they absolutely sweep you off your feet upon hearing the first note of the first song, and The Arcade Fire has done just that to me with their sophomore album, Neon Bible. It’s a complex feast of musical prowess, something so fresh and so new that upon listening to it I almost achieved my sexual peak.
The album was released in 2007, but I didn’t discover it until the Summer of 2008. The band had been talked up on some internet message boards, and I thought that trying something new would benefit my musical soul, and seeing as how I can barely listen to anything extremely commercialized, I checked it out. Plus, I trust EVERYTHING I read online in reviews, since most independent internet reviewers are not only sexy, but CORRECT as well. (WINK)
The first note of the first song on the album, ‘Black Mirror’, wowed me from the start. It was more musically developed, and less angsty than I’d expected, and then I discovered why.
The band is Canadian. (Songwriter Win Butler was actually born in the U.S., but I won’t hold that against him.)
When in doubt, I ALWAYS assume Canadians can do everything better, and this is another example where I’m proven correct. As the album develops, it evolves, each song leading into the next, sounds blending together to form a masterpiece of modern music.
Most of the album was recorded in an old church, and it adds the the aura of the music. The lyrics are poignant and proficient, Butler really has a gift. His songs are catchy, but they aren’t obsessed with themselves, and he doesn’t rely on gimmicks in a fancy recording studio to progress his message.
The band cites the album as being rooted with themes of Americana, and influences are listed as musical legends with names like Springsteen, Dylan, and Presley (not Lisa Marie), you know the influences are bound to be positive.
The music is somewhat folksy, but each song is almost like a small little story, without hitting you in the face with overt symbolism and tacky lyrics.
The band implements the use of numerous instruments, including pipe organ, an accordion, and a mandolin, and each instrument is appropriate and used respectfully. They add a layer to the songs that the band felt was needed, and I agree.
The album rose to #2 on the ever-popular Billboard charts, something both surprising and well-deserved. This is not a mainstream band, and most of the songs on here do not sound radio friendly. They’re listener friendly. The band is an independent band, and debuting so high on the charts only solidifies that there are people out there who have taste in music AND are willing to try something a little different in order to spread their wings. The Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible” is a great place to start.
The album is amazing and poignant, smart without being snarky. It provides the listener with a nice soothing album that is fantastic for not only a road trip, but also for a relaxing evening. It’s not invasive or crude, and it’s musically diverse. Not much more these Canadians could have done.
Score: 9/10 (Fantastic)