Arcade Fire's Neon Bible

Not much chance for survival
If the Neon Bible is right.

After reading a ridiculous number of positive reviews and rapturous comments for the Arcade Fire's sophomore album, Neon Bible, I was worried. In many ways, a band's second album is more important than their first. The first album is nothing more than an introduction. It is not until the second album that you begin to really understand the band's viewpoints - where it is coming from and it wants to go in the future.

With their first album Funeral, the Arcade Fire made a particularly good impression. When I wrote "[Funeral's] role is more confirmation than change, I was referring to the importance of indie rock in my musical pantheon. I was also trying to be reserved - Funeral was an amazing album, one of those rare masterpieces without a single bad track, and with several magnificent ones.

My initial draft of this review, written after I had listened to the album about 5 times, was similarly reserved. I rewrote it a few days later, after I had listened to it 5 more times. Now that I have listened to the album straight through at least 20 times, I am afraid that even my most effusive praise is not enough. Despite the fact it is only March, I am certain that Neon Bible is definitely one of the best albums of the year. If you liked Funeral, you should listen to it. If you like indie rock, you should listen to it.

I would describe the lyrics as pre-apocalyptic - there is a sense that a cataclysm is either coming soon or already here. While many of Funeral's songs had a suburban feel to them (see the video for "Rebellion (Lies)" for an example of this), Neon Bible feels both more urban and more American.[1] This is more explicit during the song "Windowsill," which contains the slightly controversial lines, "I don't wanna live in America no more." This is a reminder that the world is cosmopolitan - to live in Canada or any other Western democracy is to live in America, and vice versa.

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[1] Considering that the album was recorded in a rural Québécois church, this is a bit ironic, but it makes sense - except for the Canadian French they scatter throughout their lyrics, it is difficult to remember that the Arcade Fire are a Canadian band. Like many citizens of the Great White North, the Arcade Fire could pass.