Sunday, March 18, 2007

Neon Bible - Arcade Fire

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It's one thing making a critically acclaimed debut album, it's another thing entirely to follow it up with something as good yet something that doesn't merely mine the same territory as what preceded it.

Arcade Fire may well have fallen just short of the heights of Funeral, and only just I might add, but it's certain to say that they've come up with something that sounds both familiar (in comparison with Funeral) and something that is totally fresh at the same time.

If the Killers were threatening to go "Springsteen" then the Arcade Fire have actually gone and done it. It's not so much that the sound like him as such, although (Antichrist Television Blues) could easily be a long-lost Springsteen classic, more that they channel his restless spirit and anti-authority air.

Top tracks for me would be Intervention and No Cars Go. The former is perhaps the track most likely to please avid fans of Funeral with its church organ intro, Orchestral strings and big harmonies. The latter is probably the most overtly commercial moment on the album, and may well be the one track which really opens up the mainstream for them.

The album does lack the instant gratification of, say, Rebellion (Lies) or Power Out but then again Arcade Fire are by no means what you would term a "singles" band. Indeed there are few tracks you could imagine impacting on the charts in those terms but as a collective whole this is one amazing piece of work.

Yes, I still think that I prefer Funeral but for me that was one of the best albums of the 21st Century so far. If Neon Bible falls a little short of those great heights it should come as no great surprise, nor should it detract one iota from what is a fantastic album in its own right.

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