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Neon Bible

4.2 out of 5 stars 254 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 6, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The second album from Montreal's Arcade Fire exceeds all expectations. With string and orchestral arrangements by two of the band members, "Neon Bible" is full of both half-assed punk rock mistakes and meticulously orchestrated woodwinds. Processed strings and mandolin. Quiet rumbles and loud rumbles. But mostly just eleven songs that the band thinks are really good.

Amazon.com

For their second full-length, the Montreal-based seven-or-eight-piece Arcade Fire show themselves capable of Big Rock, as original, and as potentially marquee-topping as TV on the Radio and Sigur Ros. Regardless, the intentional murkiness of these pleasantly anthemic New Wave dirges makes it sound as if the music has already reverberated through a crowded cement stadium. Named after cult author John Kennedy Toole's first novel, Neon Bible is smart and subtle enough to present itself as a personal discovery for every listener, every word to be pored over by fans (as with those of Tori Amos, Pavement, and Radiohead). Surely, lines like "The sound is not asleep/ It's moving under my feet" have already been scribbled onto the margins of countless textbooks. Such words are delivered with less intensity this time, but no less import. For vocal influences, lead singer Win Butler seems to have traded his '80s Bowie in for an '80s Springsteen, at least on the songs "Antichrist Television Blues" and "Windowsill" (though "Intervention" sounds an awful lot like '80s era Go-Betweens). The kitchen sink arrangements include the use of an Eastern European orchestra, pipe organ, hurdy gurdy, and a military choir. --Mike McGonigal
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 6, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Merge Records
  • ASIN: B000MGUZM0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (254 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,683 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel E. Fox on March 18, 2007
Format: Audio CD
After one listen, I said to myself, "Wow this really lacks everything I loved about Funeral. I'll have to go on Amazon and write a review chiding this band for making an overproduced mess with murky vocals, poor songwriting, and way too much organ." (I know, there will be people on here who think "he should have stuck with his first instinct!!!"). But ANYWAY, I put the CD down for a few days and then thought I would give it another chance. OK, a little better, some of the songs starting to grow on me a bit, and hmmm....they really tried some interesting new things on here. I started reading some other reviews and realizing that I might be missing something, I listened to it a few more times. Wow, this is clearly not a remake of Funeral but it is something altogether different and unique and dark (let me stress dark---this is what you would call a pretty "heavy" album). I personally love it, and if you find some of the songs a bit slow and heavy, there is always the (very big) payoff of "No Cars Go" to look forward to (one of the finest Arcade Fire songs I have heard, by far). This is not an album to listen to once and make a judgment on it. Another reviewer/commenter on here has suggested that this is a copout---that I am trying to make myself accept this to be a good album by imploring others to listen to it more than once. I strongly disagree with this person (obviously)---some of my favorite CD's did not "blow me away" the very first time I heard them. In fact a truly complex and beautiful song will take its time to creep into your subconscious, but once it is there, it will never leave. Simple pop songs can "grab" you the first time---but complex art often takes a little time. Give this CD a chance if you enjoyed Funeral---it really is a worthy follow-up by a band which is not afraid to take a risk.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have to rush to be among the first 20 people to write about how this album will change your life and make you cry and sit down and write beautiful poems about completely abstract thoughts that you didn't even know you might have. [Insert more over-dramatic hyperbole here!]

The truth that there is no easy way to describe the Arcade Fire. There were hundreds of things written about them after their last album, and there will be hundreds more this time. There are comparisons to every genre and desperate attempts to lump them into some category when it's just not possible. Indie? Folk? Post-punk? Chamber-pop? None of them quite fit.

And that's the beauty of this album, as well as the first one. It defies categorization, yet it's excellent. This album isn't Funeral Part 2. There are some of the same elements--grandiose production, tons of instruments, etc. But there are also differences. This album is more of a "rock" album, if that makes any sense, where the last seemed to be more of an operatic piece. There's definitely no sophomore slump, it's just a slight change. But the important connection between both albums is that they seem effortless. It just sounds like people making good music without pretension and having a good time doing it. If you like bands like Stars or Wolf Parade, this will probably appeal to you. It might also remind you of early Cure, or early Radiohead, though it's not much like either one.

If you want to know if you'll like the album, check out the songs "No Cars Go," "Keep The Car Running," and "Intervention." Those are among the best on the album and they'll give you a good feel for how the whole thing sounds, but they also illustrate the diversity within.
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Format: Audio CD
Personally, I was terrified as I waited for the Arcade Fire's second album -- so many bands have made exquisite first albums, only to disappoint with the second.

But there are few missteps in the amazing "Neon Bible," which tries out a new sound for the Montreal band -- it sounds darker, eerier, and thoroughly exquisite. They take the chamberpop sound to a stormy cliffside over the ocean.

It opens with steady acoustic guitar, and a swell of windy synth that sounds like waves crashing on the rocks. "I will walk down to the ocean/After waking from the nightmare/No moon, no pale reflection/Black mirror, black mirror," Win Butler murmurs over a rising tide of clashing piano.

They slip into the shimmering rock'n'roll of "Keep The Car Running," which cascades down into a beautiful folky tune wrapped in synth. The songs that follow continue this feeling: the quietly taut title track, ghostly experimental, transcendent little guitar-piano ballads, soaring organ pop, and even a sparkling, catchy indiepop tune or two.

The Arcade Fire obviously took their time crafting this album, and making all the kind of intelligent rock people expect from them. But the sound is entirely different -- it's darker and stranger than its predecessor, as well as sounding a bit more processed.

Granted, I wasn't crazy about the pipe-organ blues of "Intervention." However, the other songs are sheer brilliance musically -- a beautiful thunderstorm of instrumentation, with the sound of a sonic religious experience. Just listen to the crescendo of soaring voices, drums, horns and strings at the end of "No Cars Go."

As for the instrumentation, it's packed in dense, shifting layers.
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