As you can probably guess from the title above, this one is about Neon Bible, the new album by The Arcade Fire, my favouritest band at the moment. A while ago I downloaded the album and was faced with a moral crisis, to enjoy the work, or support the band. However, I have now finally purchased the album and I can now do both.
I was planning on doing a full review/interpretation/love fest for the album, but I have to say you would probably find a better one on McNutt’s blog or on Us Kids Know Forum, both of which are great places to go for information on this unreal band. So instead, I decided that I would just try and explain what makes this album so great to me in 7 reasons.
1. The Story it Tells – Like all great albums this is more than just a mere collection of songs, and this one tells a story and a half. The great things is that this album is just so full of information, stories, and poetry that it may take years for anyone to really figure out what was going on inside the heads of the artists while they were putting this thing together. But here is one of the many stories I have came up with using all of the albums song titles in order.
A man gets a terrible vision of the future by gazing into a “Black Mirror”. He panics and is convinced that doom is coming at any moment. In order to prepare he makes sure to “Leave the Car Running”, just in case he needs to get away quickly. He tries to spread the word by writing it in the “Neon Bible” for all to read. Fed up that nobody is listening, he tries to do something about it, make an “Intervention” if you will. However, it is far too late and disaster strikes. Everyone panics as they see/feel “Black Wave/Bad Vibrations”. Chaos ensues, and the world is filled with an “Ocean of Noise”. In the chaos, our hero gets trapped in “The Well and the Lighthouse” (that one will make more sense if you have heard the song). After he finally gets out, life is appearing to return to normal for most people, but our hero becomes quite disillusioned with the world and sings the “Antichrist Television Blues”. Things start to get worse once again and he laments them coming to his “Windowsill”. Finally, he has an idea of how to get away from everything he hates, by going to a place where “No Cars Go”. But once he realizes that it is only possible in his mind, he and cries out ‘“My Body is a Cage”’ with hope that it will help set his spirit free.
Not half bad eh? And I am leaving out some really important details and awesome lines from the songs and going just by the titles. Clearly there is a lot more to explore with this one.
2. The Ending to “(Antichrist Television Blues)” – This song is unreal, but the ending is what makes it even more impressive. As the song progresses, more and more anger is filled in the lyrics and tone of Win Butler’s voice. Meanwhile the music is picking up and at the very end it reaches its crescendo with the following lyrics:
“Do you know where I was when I was your age?
Any idea where I was when I was your age?
I was working downtown for the minimum wage.
And I’m not going to let you just throw it all away!
I’m through being cute,
I’m through being nice,
O tell me, Lord, am I the Antichrist?!”
And then it just ends. By the time the “st” leaves his mouth the music stops. This is simply an amazing way to end this song that just builds and builds and builds. This is one of those songs that you just can not look at as an independent entity. The lack of a falling action makes it hard to fit into any typical formula, that is why it needs the remaining songs on the album to bring it down a notch.
3. The Cover – Come on, how cool is this?
4. The Religious References – Well it is called Neon Bible, so it really isn’t all that surprising I suppose. The title track having some very obvious references to the good book, but it is defiantly not alone here. In “(Antichrist Television Blues)”, they talk about being a “Good Christian Man”, and it is written as both a mixture of a man talking to his daughter and praying. The chorus of “Intervention” talks about “Working for the church while your life falls apart” and “My Body is a Cage” contains the plea to “Set my spirit free”, which could very well talk about going to the place in the sky.
But it is more than just the lyrics. First off, almost every song has some sort of water based imagery and connections with the Biblical flooding can definitely be made in “Windowsill”. Also, the album sounds religious. It is filled with organ sounds and background choir, especially “Intervention”.
Far too often when bands name an album after a song it is because they couldn’t think up anything better, however it is really obvious here that Neon Bible describes the entire album.
5. The Transition from Black Wave to Bad Vibrations – In the fifth song, “Black Wave/Bad Vibrations”, something funny happens. It starts out with Regine singing very melodically and innocently and all of a sudden Win interrupts with more darkness. It is just a great musical moment that you really need to listen to a number of times to really get what they are doing here.
6. It Picks up Right Where Funeral Left Off – Funeral is very light-hearted and innocent, Neon Bible is the exact opposite, making it hard at first to make a connection between these two unreal albums. I decided one day to listen to them right in a row, no break, no anything, I just played one right after the other and I was amazed at what I found. Funeral ends with “In the Backseat” which just sounds like a dream. Neon Bible then begins with the line “I walked down to the ocean/After waking from a nightmare”. How cool is that? At the end of the first album they are falling asleep all innocent and then waking up after a nightmare to find out that things are different. Not sure if they intended for this Van Winklesque connection between the two albums, but I think it is awesome.
7. It’s The Arcade Fire!!!! – We are playing witness to something really special in music right now, a great band coming of age. Sure it won’t ever get the press that it deserves, but these guys and gal are changing music as we know it. When future music geeks look back at the first decade of this century they will talk about this band and just how influential they were. They are just so fresh, so unique and so unreal. If you do not like them then I really have to question your musical taste.
Well there are seven reasons as to why I love this album. I could probably go on for many, many more, but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself here. This is just the first edition of this feature and I need to try and give myself an opportunity to raise the bar. I haven’t really thought up what my next “Why I Love…” will be about. Right now I have been thinking about Stephen Colbert, Camp, Star Wars, Teaching, Blogging, Spring, or possibly some place I have traveled to.
If any of you out there have any suggestions please feel free to hit me with a comment, I haven’t been getting too many of those lately. It makes me feel like a bit of a loosebag when nobody pays attention to me.
Until next time,