Erin Wolf

The Arcade Fire

By - Apr 1st, 2007 02:52 pm
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“World War Three, when are you comin’ for me?”

Win Butler of the Arcade Fire poses the question in Neon Bible, which is saturated with natural disasters, social unrest, fundamentalist discontent and the toxic emissions from celebrity culture. Arcade Fire opens its mouth to the world, attempts to swallow it, digest, then spit it back out for our benefit.

Fortunately, they pull off the huge feat of addressing cultural and global issues without needing to be punk and without sounding anthematically ridiculous. Stadium act they still are not. Rather, the band has worked on crescendo-ing their status and sound not by venue, but by orchestrating the music into sweeping, gothic proportions which, given their choice of instruments – a pipe organ, accordion, hurdy gurdy and the addition of a military choir and a Hungarian orchestra – seems perfectly appropriate.

With a grandiosity that exceeds the debut, Funeral, Neon Bible sweeps in with the sinister staccato rumblings of a piano akin to a cold front before a summer storm, thundering alongside windy string arrangements. Tracks dodge between orchestra pit pop and rock epics, finding gospel-influenced ballads tagged with southwestern brass along the way.

As Neon Bible reflects on the situation of “us versus the world,” it comes dangerously close to compacting too much doom and gloom into an album that was definitely meant to deliver a blow, not a nudge; after awhile, the same bruise gets punched. The only respite from the global explosion of chaos is the closing track, “No Cars Go” (re-recorded from a previous EP). The Arcade Fire may have favored ending high and hopeful with a message more about running to freedom than running from global assault.

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