The Arcade Fire- Neon Bible
I couldn't believe my ears. The Arcade Fire were going to release a new acclaimed album? Their tour, which happened to be the most anticipated of all time, was about to happen? At this critical crossroads in musical lore, I knew that I had to throw my indie credibility into the winds of change and put my hitchhiking thumb up, unafraid to whether the journey into the musical cosmos that is Arcade Firedom. Neon Bible, an interesting name, something that seems completely unpretentious at first glance. Hmmm, I thought to myself. It seems that whatever symbol the Bible is taking here, perhaps, some sort of statement on orthodox beliefs being somehow glossy and cheap, had never been done before. I quickly realized that if this was going to prove to be some dire warning on the level of complexity TAF (As I learned to so appropriately call them, as saying their full name might somehow incur the wrath of Winn Butler while I wander the streets on a cold Montreal night.) would be throwing at me with Neon Bible, I had best prepare.
At first, it was all candelbra and pentagrams, but I surely felt that maybe fighting the Neon Bible with the Neon Necromonicon might not be such a prudent choice. Next, to prepare myself, I decided to filter out the awesome sound of Neon Bible by buying two large styrofoam cups and gluing them to my speakers. Not noticing any considerable change in sound, I quickly abandoned the pursuit for “greener pastures.” To be honest, you can't really judge anything critically on weed.
After ripping up the bedsheets and boiling the pillow cases, I still didn't feel prepared to listen to Neon Bible and accurately describe it. I began to wonder, what it would be, what sort of looming danger that was inspiring this apprehension in me. Although I am not used to sorting through music with something that adeptly moves hay, I definitely felt that a band that is surely as good as the Arcade Fire would deserve a listening on headphones, and on vinyl, and then finally only through my computer speakers. If the most hyped band of all time is going to release an album, then I had better listen to it critically.
Which is why to my relief and disappointment, that after listening to Neon Bible I was of course, pretty fucking unimpressed. Whether I'm being overly sarcastic or not, retarded hype over musical groups is always bad. Folks, bad journalism isn't necessarily the infotainment on the front page of cnn.com, nor is it the fair and balance of Fox News. Bad journalism is giving an album unrealistic expectations or overhyping a band so much that it's sense of context within a music scene is lost entirely. Bad journalism is taking cues from magazines such as Rolling Stone and other music rags in terms of releasing one's self from the boundries of journalistic enterprise and engaging in delivering almost pornographic praise. It's true, I don't like Neon Bible, in fact, it's a painfully unoriginal and mediocre album,
So painfully preaching discourse aside, here are some thoughts on the album. Some of the assumptions I had going into the album were these: It would probably be much better produced then Funeral, which was recorded in a living room. It would probably be somehow different then Funeral in terms of songwriting and structure (Only half of that is true, and not in a good way), and I was half-expecting to like it a lot more then Funeral, because half of Funeral's “charm,” (And half of the reason I hated it.) was its lofi production, its sound that at sometimes was gritty and raw, illustrating the painful MEATSPACE tragedies that had occurred in the band member's lives. I hope that my assumptions weren't too lofty, although, I certainly think that they severely damaged my ability to even play this album more then twice.
As far as its sound, Neon Bible sounds like its been brought back from what was Funeral's grave. Any song that isn't mired in a Spector-esque wall of sound is hideously bare, and still most of the instruments sound truly opaque through the mix. The only cool effects end shortly after Black Mirror, and Win Butler's overly reverbed voice gets old extremely quickly. Blah, blah blah, it's annoying to have to listen to an album you've already heard and make the same complains about it.
Which leads me to next point, the only thing the Arcade Fire can do, and even only do semi-well, is their huge “Wall of sound” indie-orchestra. But do they really expect me to wade through another five songs that sound extremely similar to ones from their past albums? Nothing on the new album has anything as interesting or energetic as “Wake Up,” or “Laika,” instead the emotion seems extremely forced and pretentious. If you are going record half of an orchestra, for the sake of sonic quality, record it correctly. I was half surprised to see that the cover wasn't a picture of the band holding up signs that said, “THE ARCADE FIRE IS SERIOUS BUSINESS.” What was genuine and sensitive on Funeral is arrogant and overwrought as fuck on Neon Bible, which critically appraises such never before heard of concepts such as organized religion and MTV. Raise your hand if it's 2007 and you're only recently finding yourself being the indie man being held back by the MTV dudes! I mean really, that kind of lyric MATTER has less weight right now and less importance than Video Killed the Radio Star. Color me “Pandered to.”
Unfortunately, because of the relative HOMOGENUOUS NATURE of the album, there isn't much more to critique. This album is boring and mediocre and sounds like it was made in 2004 in a living room, much like another album I've heard. The lyrics are especially vapid and the music is overwrought. Do we need to seriously bring back punk rawk so that pretentious art-rockers like Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom, and the Arcade Fire can be brought back down to Earth? Half the criticisms of prog rock can be made when the melodies are so obfuscated that half of the time I find myself changing songs in hope of finding a section that isn't more formulaic wankery. I know a guy who played tuba on the album, and he agrees with me! So I must be right. Sorry Neon Bible, but you're ever bit as gaudy as your title suggests. If you think I'm just being a cynical fuck, well, perhaps you should wait to take your written vindication on me. Win Butler lives in the same city as me, and he can probably kick my ass. (Especially if he catches me jerking off on his dead grandmother's grave.)
Rating: Neon shit
Download: Sorry, I don't believe in music sharing.