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Volume 72, Issue 106, Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Life & Arts

‘Neon Bible' will make a believer out of you

Arcade Fire gets cynical on its sophomore release 

The Daily Cougar 

Arcade Fire's latest release, Neon Bible, will convert any ambivalent listener into a fan. 

Once again, the band meshes different genres of music -- folksy beats and heavy rock tunes -- just like it did in its 2004 debut, Funeral. 

The lyrics on Neon Bible run the full spectrum of material, from the introspective "My Body is a Cage" ("I'm standing on a stage / Of fear and self-doubt / It's a hollow play / 

But they'll clap anyway") to the vaguely political "Windowsill" (Don't wanna live in my father's house no more / Don't wanna fight in a holy war / Don't want the salesmen knocking at my door / I don't wanna live in America no more"). 

Despite the fact that it seems the Montreal-based rock group slips and forgets it doesn't live in America at all, Neon Bible is a momentous album. 

The apex in this set is "No Cars Go," which was originally an EP for Funeral. 

Clocking in at a little longer than six minutes, the song ranges from a soft drum roll in the background and crescendos into an orchestra and choir harmonizing as it reaches its climax. 

This is the album's only upbeat song and it's a welcome change. 

While Funeral served as eulogy to childhood and a romanticized past, Neon Bible steps forward to preach a gospel with a world-weary perspective on basically everything. It's not necessarily depressing, but it highlights the dirt under the fingernails that everyone deals with. 

The sober sound replaces youthful vigor with a disciplined cynicism.

The religious themes continue throughout the rest of the album. "Antichrist Television Blues" draws parallels of a God-fearing man and the glitz with the entertainment industry: "Dear God, I'm a good Christian man / 

In your glory, I know you understand / That you gotta work hard and you gotta get paid / My girl's 13 but she don't act her age." 

The pleas to a higher power continue with, "I'm through being cute, I'm through being nice / Oh, tell me, Lord, am I the antichrist?" which is the last thing heard before an ominous silence. 

And while Arcade Fire ended Funeral on a light and whimsical note, there is no such coda for Neon Bible, no happily-ever-after endings -- only silence. 

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