A Haunting Masterpiece

Neon Bible (Rough Trade)
Arcade Fire

By Jill Morgan

Win Butler's tragic vibrato in the opening lines of "Black Mirror" rendered the Arcade Fire's latest album, Neon Bible, a shadowy opera of modern existential angst. Multiple instruments culminate into whirls of sweeping sound and echo; ascending piano interludes with minor keys that set the soul to weep. The Arcade Fire is a Romantic lot and not too pleased with the current cultural condition, yet they manage to remain life-affirming. Such is the philosophy that characterizes the album, which is despairingly idealistic. Percussive pipe organs and snare drums create a pulse that endures in the chaos.

The band obtained access to a church in the process of recording this album - the opening key of "Intervention" juts from a seasoned pipe organ. "Black Wave/Bad Vibration" is a masterpiece if for no other reason than the cello lines; the myriad voices in this band come together to mimic one another.

There is a distinctively doo-wop thing going on in the eighth track, "Antichrist Television Blues." Perhaps the apex of the album is the anthemic "No Cars Go," steadily progressing through beats and horns with loud interjections of "hey!," good synth lines and calls to action. A plead is taking place between a chorus of voices, disillusioned and the "women/children/babies/ and old folks" among us to transcend our shadowy world. As is exclaimed emphatically by Butler, "Don't know where we're goin'...." Check out "My Body is a Cage," a rare modern philosophical gospel.

I am haunted by this record daily. I have not felt compelled to write a record review in my life; I have never gotten emotional enough to do so. It was absolutely different with this - I've felt the urge to recommend it to everyone I know. Simply put, it is excellent. The songs and the lyrics are excellent. And the interpretation excels as well. The band makes you feel these songs.

Catch www.arcadefire.com.