Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Arcade Fire -- Neon Bible.

Win Butler! WIN!With their dynamic debut Funeral, Montreal-collective Arcade Fire captured the attention of the music scene and were suddenly deemed both indie-rock's great white hope and hype. Say what you will about the aforementioned hype; few debut records in recent memory had as much focus and maturity, and one would find it difficult to believe Arcade Fire would be able to duplicate such fervor without fear of banality and repetition.

To say Neon Bible doesn't disappoint would be an understatement. Arcade Fire has grown into an even more passionate and mature group, their songs growing more expansive as the band comes into their own sound. The dark tone of Funeral isn't nearly as blatant, nor abundant; frontman Win Butler sings with (and of) hope, joy and faith.

En Espanol El Auto NoVaThat's not to say this is an overtly religious album, despite the name (or the fact that the band recorded in a converted church). It's moreso an album of rehabilitation. Where Funeral was a grieving process, Neon Bible sees the band moving on with their respective lives with a new sense of soul. This may be best exemplified in the majestic "No Cars Go," a song probably best known as being the "one played live that wasn't on Funeral" (it also appears on their eponymous EP). The track - like the band - has grown up, even if only a couple of years; the arrangement is one of sweeping grandiose confidence.

Artist Rendering of Roy Orbison joining the Shoegaze band RideMoments like these occur often throughout Neon Bible. Butler evokes the honesty of Nebraska-era Springsteen on first single "Intervention" and (especially) the alt-country-ish narrative "(Antichrist Television Blues)." The beautiful "Ocean of Noise" features droning shoegazer guitar - reminiscent of the criminally-underrated Brit band Ride - and mariachi horns over a Roy Orbison-like croon. And while these influences are rather apparent, they are never overdone and always fresh-sounding.

It's still up in the air whether or not Arcade Fire may not be the saviors of indie rock's future. What is certain is that they are the kings of indie rock's present.

Rating: 5/5

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