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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 6 March 2007
This is it!!! My copy didn't arrive until today, and as I am a bit sad and old fashioned I have deliberately avoided spoiling the moment by listening to downloaded tracks or clips: I wanted to hear the album complete and at very high volume as it's been hugely anticipated in these parts. Funeral was such an immense album that I approached the new one with trepidation because the weight of expectaton was so huge that it was really going to take some monumental album to avoid a let down.

So I have just locked myself in the living room for an hour or so with the phone off the hook, a big loud stereo, and Neon Bible. Just heard the album for the first time and it's totally blown my bloody doors off. I needn't have worried about the album not having any of the elements that made Funeral the most exciting thing I had heard in years. It's all there: Win Bulter's compelling voice, the angular Pixies-like way of creating completey original songscapes, Regine Chassagne popping up for the first half of Black Wave/Bad Vibrations just when you were wondering when her indiosyncratic and weirdly beautiful voice would take centre stage, and the massive huge enormous sound and unstoppable momentum.

I know I am ranting and gibbering, so I'll stop. It's all been such a tremendous relief. If this is the album that every man and his dog will hear this year, as we have been told it will be, then I am quite delighted for that to be the case. I am a happy chap. I'm off for another listen. Woohay!!!!
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on 13 February 2007
I'll try and keep this brief but God this "Neon Bible" is something to behold. Forget if it's better than "Funeral" for it, unbelievably, knocks the spots off it. Worry not, we can all rely on this band to lift us all for many years to come, to tell us how to rejoice despite our inevitable demise- then again maybe we can change everything, anything is possible when we listen to the Arcade Fire. No wonder Chris Martin felt trivial at a recent Arcade Fire performance, the one where the band played an impromptu performance in the bar FOLLOWING the gig.

"Neon Bible" sees the band remain in mourning following their debut but what is startling is their realisation that their own lives are in danger at such a young, vibrant age; the values of love, the power of youth and family are cherished as on "Funeral" but this time it's a matter of life and death, the urgency is reflected in Win's wonderfully maturing voice- boy does he mean it. The world needs an intevention.

Opener "Black Mirror" is a swirling meolstrom of doom; "mirror, mirror on the wall, show me where the bombs will fall," ending with the rumbling sounds of destruction leading nicely into one of the most uplifting songs here in "Keep The Car Running." Banjos, booming beats and Win reaching the hights of Ian McCullough at his very best.

The title track is a curio at two minutes fifteen seconds, the understated delivery testament to the fact that The Arcade Fire are to be with us for many years to come being brave and brilliant; "Neon Bible, not much chance for survival," gives us a faint glimmer of hope but we need a revolution in thought right NOW

A prolonged church organ sets the tone for "Intervention," a massive choir sing of the corruption of modern, organised religion and again our only saviours are the youth of the world, the kids. The whole album advocates revolution and rebellion; religion, America, MTV, war- it's all dealt with here with disdain and the niavette essential for hope.

What follows are 7 more blistering songs that just get better the more you play them culminating in "My Body Is A Cage" featuring a blast of organ that will blow your head clean off. When it ends just put it on again- this album should be played in it's entirity, very loud and preferably down by the sea.

This record could well be the most important since Neil Young's "On The Beach" or "Tonight's The Night," high praise indeed for a young band who aready possess a stubstantial body of work. Along with Connor Oberst, Jack White, Wayne Coyne, Joanna Newsom, Sufjan and Rufus these artists move with such purpose and meaning that it really puts our music scene to shame.

Even among such hallowed company there can be no doubt that The Arcade Fire have exceeded all expectations with a mastepiece that is already the record of 2007. Alf Tupper.
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on 8 January 2016
Quite disappointed with this vinyl. I like the album but unfortunately the pressing I received was horribly distorted/crackling more or less throughout all three sides. Cleaning/wiping down did not help so returning for a refund. To make things worse, the price has now doubled what I paid and Amazon refuse to replace! I'm sure I'll try again somewhere down the line to get hold of this at a decent price.
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on 25 May 2016
Consolidation of Funeral, and better, but already signing a bit samey. Don't really want to know what they did next tho. I suspect more of the same. Renee Fleming's version of Intervention was of course far superior.
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on 8 March 2007
Ever since The Arcade Fire released the rather brilliant 'Funeral', I have been looking forward immensely to their follow-up. However, with the dizzy heights that 'Funeral' managed to reach, was 'Neon Bible' going to live up to the expectations?

The answer is a resounding yes.

It opens with 'Black Mirror', a rather mysterious, dark opener. Win Butler's vocals are slightly improved on what was heard on 'Funeral', and this album echoes David Bowie on occasions. An excellent opener, mixing English and occasional French dialects. 9/10.

Track two, 'Keep The Car Running', combines strings with acoustic guitars, and has a bit of a rock-and-roll feel about it. This track might well be a future release- it might be already. Astonishingly, it isn't the best track on the album, such is the quality and diversity that the Arcade Fire show here. Nevertheless, a solid 9/10.

Track three, 'Neon Bible', is slow, laboured, and dark. At only just over two minutes long, it isn't really filler, it's just a sign of things to come. The lyrics are deep and dark. 'Not much chance for survival if the Neon Bible is right', Butler almost whispers. 8/10.

Track four, 'Intervention', is outstanding. The pipe-organs, acoustic guitar and strings combine beautifully, and gives the song a really epic and grand feel. 'There are some debts you'll never pay....You're working for the church while your family dies,' Butler moans. A dark theme, gripping lyrics and brilliant music. One of the standout tracks. 10/10.

Track five, 'Black Wave/ Bad Vibrations' is sung by Renee Chassagne to begin with, in French and English. A more grungy number, but with melodic parts in it as well. It keeps the dark, melancholy feel at the same time, and at the time Butler comes in to sing, the song is given a more anthemic feel with the soaring guitars and the soft, subtle choir in the background. Musically, this song, in fact the whole album, is a revelation. 10/10.

Track six, 'Ocean Of Noise', begins with a bass guitar, soft drums, and a piano. The odd rumble of thunder is heard in the background. The song builds up gradually on a crescendo, and reaches an anthemic point towards the end with strings and brass instruments playing their part. Brilliant. 9/10.

Track seven, 'The Well And The Lighthouse', is a more up-tempo number, and has a slightly rockier feel to it. Again, the Arcade Fire adapt an anthemic stance in their music and it works to their advantage. A mixture of strings, guitars, drums, vocals and a glockenspiel (I think), and it really creates a wonderful sound. The song slows down about halfway through, but it doesn't affect the quality of the music at all. Superb. 9/10.

Track eight, '(Antichrist Television Blues)', is an acoustic number to begin with. I think the song might be referring to the 9/11 disaster, because if you listen to the lyrics carefully, Win Butler sings 'Don't wanna work in a building downtown, the planes keep on crashing two by two'- it might well be something to do with the tragedy over 5 years ago. Lyrically, this song and this album on the whole is exemplary. This song also echoes some sentiments of early Bruce Springsteen. Win Butler wails towards the end 'Tell me Lord, am I the Antichrist?' Brilliant song. 10/10.

Track nine, 'Windowsill', is also an acoustic number, until about three minutes into the song. The music is expanded out, with strings, horns, and pianos in addition to the guitars and vocals. A rather simple song but the final minute or so makes it sound a better song towards the end. 8/10.

Track ten, 'No Cars Go', in my opinion, is the best song on the album. A mixture of guitars, strings, accordion, horns, and vocals give this song superior substance to most of anything else previously heard on this album so far. It has all the makings of a brilliant Arcade Fire anthem, with its punchy 'Hey!' chants and soaring riffs. Six minutes go by so easily. Maybe this could be Ken Livingstone's song to London commuters about the congestion charge. People might actually start listening to him then. But on a more serious note, this is a great anthem, especially when Butler sings 'Women and children, let's go!', and so on. And when the 'oh's come in soon after, it makes for a really grand finish and one of Arcade Fire's greatest tracks so far. A definite 10/10.

Track eleven, and the final track, 'My Body Is A Cage', is a slightly creepy, eerie, and mysterious track. Maybe it makes a full circle back to the theme of the opener, 'Black Mirror'. Butler's vocals are only accompanied by the pipe organs to begin with. The choir comes in soon after, to give it a more eerie feel. Put it this way: this is a song you would not want to hear alone in a graveyard at night. It sends a tingle down my spine when I hear it sometimes, I don't know if it's just me but it's just so downright dark and eerie. With a minute or so to go, Butler sings 'Send my spirit free...send my body free' to a building crescendo of wailing pipe organs....and it comes to a close. Superb. 10/10.

So, what do I make of the 'Neon Bible'?

I think it's a superb follow-up to 'Funeral'. Whereas the debut was dark in its lyrics, most of the music was quite light and upbeat. Here, the music is eerier, darker and more mysterious. Tracks like 'Black Mirror', 'Intervention', 'Ocean Of Noise', '(Antichrist Television Blues)', and 'My Body Is A Cage' epitomise the meaning of true mystery and darkness. That doesn't mean that it's a bad thing. It's melancholy...it's dark, but it's very good music, and that's what makes for such good listening. The lyrics are so much better and more meaningful here than on 'Funeral', but it isn't quite as good as the debut.

So overall, an outstanding follow-up, and although not as good as its predecessor, it's miles ahead of most bands out there. Highly recommended. Album of 2007 so far, without a doubt.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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