27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2007
Everyone reviewing this album seems to have to choose either the can't-beat-Funeral-EVER or wow-WAY-better-than-Funeral approach. To me they are two different records, and you should appreciate them both in their own way! This one is certainly bigger, darker and slightly more experienced, and if that's what you like buy it RIGHT NOW. The gradually building layers of different instruments are just beautiful, and I keep finding random bits of lyrics swimming agreeably round in my head (MTV, what have you done to me? Save my soul, set me free!...). Every single song is my favourite. They are all fantastic little masterpieces.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
'Funeral' was an exceptional album, one that for lesser bands might have also immediately signed a death warrant for any subsequent outings. Thankfully, Arcade Fire are not a lesser band. 'Neon Bible' is an album just as wonderfully rich and textured as the debut that preceded it. 'Keep the Car Running' and 'No Cars Go' perfectly bookend the album, both wonderfully intricate, uplifting anthems that suffer none of the banal simplicity that usually comes with such a tag. There is more orchestration here, a facet that only fails on a couple of minor occasions, but the trio of 'Neon Bible', 'Intervention' and 'Black Wave' are simply fantastic, the latter two proving equal to, if not better than, the majority of the tracks on 'Funeral'. The Arcade Fire are one of only a few truly original and interesting bands around at the moment. If you didn't manage to catch their debut, then by god you need to make sure that this follow-up doesn't pass you by.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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. Flexible guitars, clashing piano, tinkling xylophone, accordion, hurdy-gurdy, bells, dark drumming, strings and samples. The keyboard is the finishing touch, giving everything an otherworldly sound.
As if the music weren't powerful enough, we're given Win Butler's wailing vocals, often backed by one or more soaring female voices. No wonder he sounds so depressed -- the lyrics are full of bombs, flight from hostile countries, and the sorrow of living in interesting times. "Every night my dream's the same/Same old city with a different name/They're not coming to take me away/I don't know why but I know I can't stay..."
The Arcade Fire pour out a powerful, exquisite second album in "Neon Bible," one of the most compellingly beautiful albums this year.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2007
I first heard Arcade Fire on some music channel whilst channel hopping. 'Wake up' had just started and I was gripped. One of the best songs I've ever heard in my 52 years.(so I'm not 'studenty type)Straight onto my computer, on Amazon and purchased Funeral. Now funeral took it's time to grow on me, but it did. So I waited with great anticipation for the second album and purchased that as soon as it came out. Neon Bible doesn't need to grow on me, I loved it right away. One or two tracks are not that great, but in the main, thanks to Keep the car running, No cars go and Windowsill in particular, this is a damn good effort for a second album which follows a greatly acclaimed first.
But, to anyone who doubts Neon Bible, I say catch Arcade Fire doing it live, then you can really judge an album. I'm seeing them in October and I cannot wait, although at my age perhaps I should learn to wait!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2007
A lot to live up to, its safe to say. The 8-10 (or however many you want) piece band from Canada possibly released the greatest album of the decade with there 2004 debut 'Funeral'.
So critically acclaimed with a loyal fanbase, here's another bunch of euphoric opera-rock songs to treat your ears with. Rarely dipping in form, fans will hail this as another masterpiece, but unfortunately, it has a few tame songs, that never really get going ('Neon Bible', 'Black Wave/bad vibrations', 'My Body Is A Cage').
However,these are not by any means bad songs, just with the high hopes and expectations that they were given, your hardly blown away.
Elsewhere, this album is faultless, holding gems such as 'Intervention', 'Ocean Of Noise' and '(Antichrist-television-blues)'. Possibly, this album contains the most epic songs they have ever recorded in 'Keep The Car Running' and 'No Cars Go'.
Overall, a quality effort, from what arguably, is the greatest band in the world. A must for any self-respecting music fan. Your collection isin't complete without Arcade Fire. Simple as that.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2007
Once again, Arcade Fire entertain with a panoply of sound that is as diverse as it is complete. They show themselves as adroit at creating a sound that reveals anthems in their songs yet breaks down to eclectic simplicity in sections. There are gems of gorgeous riffs on Neon Bible that emerge from the very large scale sound that Arcade Fire are able to produce.
There is progression from Funeral but whereas I didn't feel I wanted to part too far from the formula of that album, having enjoyed it so much, the change is enough to feel the distance while retaining their uniqueness and character.
I may have listened to an advance copy but I will help their chart position by buying the album from an appropriate source. Record company executives take note: where the music is of a quality worth buying, people will do so. This definitely comes into that category of worth buying.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2007
I never thought they would top Funeral but they have. I was also very wary of all the hype surrounding this album as this so often leads to disappointment, but now after listening to it many times in different environments, I can honestly say that it's one of my favourite albums of recent times.
Particular highlights are Keep The Car Running - I love the use of the string orchestra playing open strings at the beginning and the "crowd voices" towards the end of the song. I also love how Intervention begins with a huge organ sound before the strumming guitars comes in.
My only complaint is the dull album cover! After the EP and Funeral having excellent artwork and cardboard cases, the cover for Neon Bible and the traditional jewel case is a bit of a letdown, but once it's in your CD player, you will not complain!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2007
both the albums took me some time to get used to. Funeral i gave a chance after reading about it a lot (i do tend to follow the critics, yeah), while Neon Bible i'm hooked to after seeing them live (do that if you have a chance, by the way). if you want "development" or "growth", i'd have to say the lyrics seem more outward than the introspective lyrics of Funeral and also the songs all in all seem a bit more FOCUSED. anyway, i thought Neon Bible gave more of the same as Funeral in how i need to listen to the songs and find the different bits and layers that i like to focus on in each song in order to really appreciate all Arcade Fire has accomplished. don't have any expectations in which way they're going with it and just let it EXCEL in front of your ears.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I bought this album on the strength of some reviews I had read in the music magazines at the time of release, although I admit I must have been living in a cave for some time as I had not heard Funeral before. Therefore, I came to this with open eyes and ears and no expectations or preconceptions.
This isn't easy listening, but it's certainly worth the effort. Most notably, the incredibly powerful My Body Is A Cage; who'd have thought a cathedral organ would sound so perfect in a modern indie recording? It's a breathtaking song and easily the best on the album and an instant classic.
The lyrics to all the songs hark back slighlty to a different time, and have a great deal of depth and perception to them. I really enjoyed listening to them as they made me think.
An absolutely brilliant album; one of the best of 2007 and a modern classic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2008
Making a second album was never going to be an easy thing for Arcade Fire, Funeral was possibly the worst type of debut album a band could make being that it was absolutely amazing and possibly the best album of the last 20 years. The logical thing to do after making an album that good is to realise it's impossible for you to top it and just not even try...luckily this is not what Arcade Fire do. The band fully realise they can't ever make another Funeral, so instead of trying to make Funeral Part 2, the band instead decide to head in a different musical direction. The thing you've got to realise is that this album is not and will never be Funeral, you can't even really compare the two they're leagues apart and both are completely brilliant in different ways.
The album opens with the haunting "Black Mirror"; the song doesn't just open the album but also sets the tone and atmosphere for the album. The band still uses strings, a lot actually, so if you're not a fan of them this album really isn't for you. The amount of times I've heard about how Arcade Fire over rely on strings is just not even funny; if Arcade Fire do over rely on them then so does Mozart, the strings are a key part of their music so either accept that or don't bother listening.
I never thought I would ever use the word overrated or overplayed when talking about an Arcade Fire song but the album's second song is just that. Don't get me wrong I think that "Keep the Car Running" is a great song but it's probably my second or third least favourite on the album. The song just gets way too much hype.
Sometimes songs are best when kept simple and the album's next track "Neon Bible" is a prime example of this, the song is simple, short and great. Part of me wishes the song could have been longer that it could have become a classic song but it's not and never will be longer. It's just over two minutes long and it's great the way it is.
The first song I heard from this album was the epic "Intervention", and straight away I thought it was amazing. The song is easily the best thing Arcade Fire has ever recorded and that's pretty high praise considering how amazing their albums are. It's a song I could listen to forever and never get sick of and the way things are going I probably will listen to it forever.
"Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" is Régine's song on the album, well half of it is anyway. Halfway through Win takes over and part of me wishes he doesn't, the first half of the song is much better than the second. The second part just sounds a little uninspired especially when compared to the excellent first half and for that reason this song is probably my least favourite one on the album.
"Ocean Of Noise" is another amazing and beautiful song and the next song is just as amazing too. "The Well and the Lighthouse" is probably the band's best use of backing-vocals on the entire album, they really help lift the song from simply being great to being excellent. "(Antichrist Television Blues)" (Another song which makes great use of backing vocals) and "Windowsill" are great acoustic songs, a kind of return to the style of their debut EP. "No Cars Go" on the other hand is actually from the EP and showcases the reasons why they really should rerecord the songs from it, with the higher production standards and better vocals the song really is a classic anthem.
The album's closer "My Body Is a Cage" is probably its second best song, especially for anyone who has seen this song live it really is just amazing, the perfect way to end such an amazing album.
Overall this album may not be as good (song for song) as Funeral but like Funeral the majority of the songs are simply amazing and the album also has a great atmosphere throughout which helps lift it up to being another masterpiece.
Well most bands fail to even achieve one masterpiece in their entire career Arcade Fire have already released two , they've shown they don't need to stick to one style and they've shown they can improve as musicians (especially vocally) and also they've shown themselves to be one of the best live bands there is. If they can keep making albums of this quality there's nothing stopping them from becoming one of the greatest bands of all time.