Artist: "Arcade Fire"
Album: "Neon Bible"
Genre: Indie Music
Review: If the internet is any indication, most Arcade Fire fans prefer their first album, Funeral, and while it's admittedly a close call for me, I have to go with Neon Bible myself. It has a much grander, more epic scope than their first album, it was recorded in an old church and has a sort of hollow, echoey sound that I quite enjoy. If people say that the first album was Bowie influenced, then this one definitely has a bit of Springsteen in its inspiration, and his touch can particularly be felt on the track "(Antichrist Television Blues)".
Much of the album has a bit of an early 80s New Wave sort of feel to it, but featuring a wide variety of instruments, such as pipe organs, accordians, mandolins, hurdy gurdies, stringed instruments, and my personal favorite, haunting female vocals that faintly sort of trace the edges in the background. As the title suggests, religion is one of the major recurring themes of the album, especially present on my two favorite tracks, "Intervention" and "(Antichrist Television Blues)". There are plenty of other poppy, catchy-as-hell tunes here as well, most notably "Keep the Car Running" and a newer, better version of "No Cars Go", originally recorded for their self-titled debut EP.
My absolute favorite track on the album is without a doubt "Intervention", a song I have played for some friends who were completely unmoved and indifferent, but to my ear it's one of the prettiest songs I've ever heard, with it's grandiose pipe organ, chimes and ethereal female vocals floating in the background. It makes me think of cold December nights when everything's all lit up with stringed lights but there's also that sort of wintery melancholy in the air as the year is nearing its end.
My favorite Arcade Fire songs tend to be the ones that feature Régine Chassagne on vocals in some capacity, either doing lead (such as Funeral's "In the Backseat") or just enhancing the background with her vocal melodies. My absolute favorite moment on this album comes about three and a half minutes into "(Antichrist Television Blues)" where a wall of female voices just blows up and then sound as if they're soaring and spiraling around each other. I don't know if it's just her with different vocal tracks layered in, if there are multiple singers, or even if they used samples, but that one unique 20-second stretch absolutely defines the phrase "ear candy" for me.
If you tend to notice and appreciate these little background touches that enhance but don't exactly drive the song, and you like that spacey, distant sound that makes the band sound like they're playing in a large, dark cathedral, you will probably dig this album. If you're an Arcade Fire fan already but didn't care much for this album, pull it out again and have another listen. It's no Funeral, sure, but I just hope that means that the Arcade Fire will be with us for a long time to come.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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