This is my 100th post! For my post, I will review the recent Arcade Fire CD Neon Bible (2007). When I bought this disc, I was in the mood to try something different. A well intentioned but condescending Barnes & Noble salesman pitched a couple of different bands, most of which sounded pretty good (Muse, The Decemberists and some Gypsy Punk Band). But I decided to check out Arcade Fire, the songs I heard from them were engaging and the recent reviews described the current disc as Bruce Springsteenish. I played the song snippets at the listening station and liked what I heard so I picked it up.
Though I could hear some Springsteen in it (occassional rootsy guitars, glockenspiel sounding instruments, lyrics about cars and the night) I actually heard more of the Cure (low slung bass lines, post punk beat and depressed tone). To me. the more accurate description is that Arcade Fire is the Depeche Mode for the new age. Arcade Fire is full of gloomy guses. And yet these comparisions don't do justice to their original sound, a layered composition filled with strumming guitars, marching band drums, sawing strings and swirling synthesizers topped with quivering vocals. They are a unique sounding bunch.
Neon Bible tackles themes familiar to Depeche Mode fans, in fact it reminded me of that band's album title Faith Love and Devotion. That pretty much sums up this album, as many of the songs relate to questioning faith in religion (the organ drenched"Intervention") and other's faith as well (the Joe Simpson potshot "Antichrist Television Blues"). The album follows almost a concept album theme, starting with a desperate search for identity ("Black Mirror" and "Keep The Car Running"). The search leads to what the Fire perceive as empty promises of salvation ("Intervention" and "Neon Bible") and seeing fault in other's faith ("Antichrist" and "Windowsill"). It ends with an unresolved feeling on the dirge like "My Body Is A Cage".
Neon Bible won't win awards for feel good disc of the year, but the heady mix of inventive arrangements and mope rock is convincing and very listenable. The real classic tune here is "No Cars Go", it plays like Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More" on speed. While Neon Bible isn't Born To Run, it's a better piece than the Killer's copy by numbers approach to "When We Were Young". So, if you're in the mood for the 21st century Depeche Mode, check out Arcade Fire!