Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

Merge

It’s a little disappointing to get what may be the best record of 2007 so early in the year. It sets a dangerous precedent unlikely to be matched.

The group’s second full-length release, “Neon Bible,” sounds like its 2004 debut: huge and orchestral, with strings, drones and organs weaving in and out.

The album opens with a thunderstorm-like tympani vamp on “Black Mirror,” which could be on the sound track to a modern Gothic melodrama; it contains a ghosty vocal effect that is downright creepy.

But “Keep the Car Running” might be the best track on the album. Quick, poppy rhythms and melodies support echoic vocals, and contrast perfectly with swirling backing tracks made either by the hurdy gurdy or some other archaic stringed instrument. “The Well and the Lighthouse” is similarly paced, but more upbeat.

“Neon Bible” is dense, but fun. The entire album works as one song, perfect for a stormy spring afternoon and a set of headphones.’Joe Wertz

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