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Neon Bible
Artist: The Arcade Fire
Label: Merge
URL: www.arcadefire.com
Time: 11 Tracks 46:59
 
The Arcade Fire is one of those bands that are hard for critics like myself to categorize. They combine so many different influences into their musical palate that it is hard to describe exactly what they sound like. The songs on Neon Bible feature acoustic and electric guitars, drums and bass, the normal instruments of a rock band. However, on one song they use a mandolin, on another they use an organ, and still on a couple of others they use synthesizer. Let me just say that if you like adventure when it comes to your music taste you are in for a thrill with this album. 

Lead vocalist and songwriter Win Butler has demonstrated his lyrical obscurity skills very finely in the past. Here on “Neon Bible” however, he lifts some of the fog by writing several much more straightforward songs. These songs are a times very powerful and insightful musings into the field of Christianity and the Church. I do not know what Butler’s Religious background is, but I can say that he is writing here with a deep understanding about certain parts of the Christian faith. 

The first example of this would be the powerful “Intervention” which, punctuated by a strong organ riff talks about how at times our Church leaders can become so caught up in the work they are doing for the congregation that their family suffers: 

Working for the Church while your family dies.
You take what they give you
And you keep it inside.
Every spark of friendship and love
Will die without a home.
Hear the soldier groan, We'll go at it alone
This is a hard hitting verse right here. There are many interpretations to it. Possibly it could be addressed at someone who spends all their time trying to preach Salvation to the masses while forgetting to spread the Gospel to their family. It could be about how often people can be more loving towards those outside their own family. At any rate this is a powerful song that cannot be overlooked. 

Another moment like this comes on the powerful “Antichrist Television Blues” which rides a blues riff that calls to mind mid-60’s Dylan at his finest (think “Highway 61 Revisited” era). On this song Butler seems to explore the type of Christians that tend to think that their good works alone will get them into heaven.  In this song the protagonist even asks God to allow his daughter to be at The Lord’s right hand in heaven: 

You know that I'm a God fearing man,
You know that I'm a God fearing man,
But I just gotta know if its part of your plan
To seat my daughters there by your right hand
I know that you'll do what is right, Lord.
For they are the lanterns, and you are the light. 

Then there are less direct songs that are more of what we’ve come to expect from the Arcade Fire. Such examples of lyrical obscure songs would be “My Body Is A Cage,” “Ocean of Noise,” “Black Mirror” and “Keep The Car Running.” 

“Keep The Car Running” is one of the catchiest songs on the album though, as it features a mandolin strummed over a driving drum and guitar beat. Musically this is one of the many highlights on this well crafted and adventurous project. 

“No Cars Go” which could be interpreted as a description of heaven (a place where no planes, cars, or spaceships can go) is another musical highlight, combining synthesizers and the driving guitar sounds that we have gotten used to from the Arcade Fire since their debut album. 

This is one of the most diverse and enjoyable musical releases of the year! Combine that fact with the profound and soul-searching lyrics and you have one very strong album that should be on many critics’ top 10 records of 2007 list. I know it will be on mine!

James Morovich
8/21/07