The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (Cover Artwork)

The Arcade Fire

The Arcade Fire: Neon BibleNeon Bible (2007)
Merge Records

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:

Contributed by: JesseJesse
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The Arcade Fire had a pretty good run with Funeral. Everyone and their too-cool friends were jamming out to that disc non-stop a few years ago. Now they're back with an album titled after a book neither you nor I have read. Is it any good? I guess that's subjective. The problems this band had wit.
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The Arcade Fire had a pretty good run with Funeral. Everyone and their too-cool friends were jamming out to that disc non-stop a few years ago. Now they're back with an album titled after a book neither you nor I have read. Is it any good? I guess that's subjective.

The problems this band had with Funeral carry over to Neon Bible as well, just on a much grander scale. Most songs from the first album sounded a bit too murky and just as flat as Metallica's And Justice for All..., and the same can be said for a variety of tracks on this one too. The Arcade Fire, for as many members and as much energy they have live, have an impeccable talent to blah their way through most of the songs on an album. The group is obviously passionate about their music, but I don't feel like it always gets effectively translated into the recording.

But my biggest complaint has been addressed. The arrangement, while intricate, seemed too sparse on Funeral, which doesn't sit well with my innards when most songs are five to six minutes long. On the opener to Neon Bible, "Black Mirror," Win and crew push their downplayed production with extremely well-arranged strings and timpani thundering in the background. "Keep the Car Running" continues with more strings but shifts upbeat and positive with a Springsteen - "Dancing in the Dark" drum beat. And even the title track that follows, the bleak, nearly whispered "Neon Bible" knows its place, as its empty simple bass drum beat and plucked guitars only last two minutes. The transition track feels weak on its own, stripped of its power when it's not sandwiched between the upbeat "Keep the Car Running" and the grandiose "Intervention."

The album peaks early with "Intervention" where the straight pipe organ and loosely strummed acoustic guitar in the background start out like a hymn and builds, first with Butler's vocals until the chorus hits and the bells come in, waiting for the line "hear the soldier groan all quiet and alone" when the whole band comes in. Butler's talent relies not on his songwriting, but instead his ability to take a simple chord progression and spreading the parts around, using a repetition of a theme like any good composer should. But with the triumphant ending of the track, I lose where the band was going.

If released as an EP, the first four tracks would have been priceless. A full movement, and a minor storyline. But instead, the album continues on to the yawner "Black Wave / Bad Vibrations" with the opening line "We can reach the sea" and the opening drum beat too similar to the Go Go's "We Got the Beat." "Ocean of Noise" gets the same blah complaint from me. "The Well and the Lighthouse" and "[Antichrist Television Blues]" each carry an upbeat tone, but fail to ignite and inspire.

Thankfully, "Windowsill," an acoustic opened track with the repeating line "I don't want to live in my father's house no more" that turns into "I don't want to live in America anymore" shows that Win Butler might have paternity issues with G.W. Bush, but it also shows that Butler has improved his ratio of songs not sucking to songs sucking. And finally it's down to "No Cars Go," a song re-recorded from their debut EP. I never heard the first version, but I'm not sure I want to. This song, with its shouted "Hey!" and "Go!" and its lush horn and string arrangements is a compelling and powerful track. Win's old songwriting plus his new arrangements and budget prove to be an interesting combination. The album closes with "My Body Is a Cage," but I don't really care ‚??cause the track doesn't do it for me.

I see great potential in this group, and I believe this album is light years ahead of Funeral, but I won't be putting this on any end of the year lists in 2007.


People who liked this also liked:
The Clash - London CallingThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Operation Ivy - Operation IvyNOFX - The DeclineAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyThe Weakerthans - Reconstruction SiteJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyThe Clash - The ClashBad Religion - SufferBrand New - Deja Entendu

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
ebdrummer20 (June 1, 2009)

i love this band great album

Anonymous (August 2, 2007)

please get people with any form of knowledge to review things from now on. thanks.

benz (April 26, 2007)

I heard it was named after the novel.

And if it isn't, then that's a pretty crazy coincidence.

Anonymous (April 23, 2007)

Now they're back with an album titled after a book neither you nor I have read.

This album is not named after the novel.

And what is this "niether you nor I have read it" bullshit? John Kennedy Toole won the Pulitzer Prize. It's not like he's an obscure and unknown writer. Plus they made a movie out of it.

Some of us actually read books as well as listen to music, you fuck.

Anonymous (April 23, 2007)

fuck this band

Anonymous (April 23, 2007)

I didn't want to like this album solely on some unfounded anti-indie-rock-pretentiousness prejudice, but after listening to my brother's copy a handful of times I've come to like it. Of course, the same thing happened with Funeral and I never listen to that album anymore, so maybe this enjoyment will be passing.

TREOS (April 23, 2007)

plus i think the album art is kinda shitty, but thats just me

TREOS (April 23, 2007)

Does anyone know any sweet upbeat post-rock/indie bands similiar to the tokyo police club? i would really appreciate it if u hooked me up with some bands i could check out...heres my email


and yah this album was kinda blah, not terrible by any means, but certainly not great

TheMike (April 23, 2007)

"Ah yes, the ol' 'everyone hates it so it ends up on the year-end list'. Typical."

The person likes it. Your cynicism makes you sound like an idiot. It might make my end of year list as well. And yes, it IS because I think the music is really good.

jesse (April 22, 2007)

Production values. Similar production values. I'm not saying Arcade Fire sounds like Metallica.

Anonymous (April 22, 2007)

wait. did they just compare the Arcade Fire to a Metallica album? thats a stretch.....................balls.

Anonymous (April 22, 2007)

arcade fire disgrace quebec give me simple plan anyday hahaha

theyounginfluential (April 22, 2007)

Better than funeral!!

branden (April 22, 2007)

i kind of enjoy this a little bit.

Anonymous (April 21, 2007)

better than funeral

Anonymous (April 21, 2007)

Ah yes, the ol' "everyone hates it so it ends up on the year-end list". Typical.

greg0rb (April 21, 2007)

I like this album but I'm not sure it's clicking with me as much as Funeral did. Arcade Fire does tend to do more slow songs than they need to, and I think if they stuck to mostly upbeat stuff they would win over some of these people that think they're 'boring' just because they have a punk attention-span. Anyway, I'm pretty sure this WILL make my end-of-the-year list... but time will tell if it gets pushed out. Solid album.

Anonymous (April 21, 2007)

Score is for punknews.org telling me that if liked the new NOFX and the Operation Ivy collection that I would also like this album.


Anonymous (April 21, 2007)

Forgot my score.

Anonymous (April 21, 2007)

Review is spot on.

First 4 songs are fantastic. The back-half is a struggle except for No Cars Go and The Well and LIghthouse. Ocean of Noise is slow but OK.

Anonymous (April 21, 2007)

I think Black Wave / Bad Vibrations and Ocean of Noise are very strong songs, possibly the best part of the CD, which partially explains why I'd rate this higher than did the reviewer. This disk also took quite a bit more time to get into than did Funeral or the first EP, but after some time I have really come to enjoy it and would likely place it near the top of this year's releases.

Anonymous (April 21, 2007)

Most overrated band....Ever

rejectedbyrequest (April 21, 2007)

I don't see why there is any hype generated by this band at all. It is terrible, absolutly terrible. The first album I couldn't stand, but this one was getting alot of praise, so I checked it out. God awful, indie-rock wanna-bes, all this band is.

P.S. review is still terrible....

klonny (April 21, 2007)

"why the fuck is this on here?"

I guess you're the new guy on Punknews.org?

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

no need to get defensive, i was just mocking the people who say, "this is PUNKnews.org." i figured you knew that. after all, this is punKNEWs.org. am i making stupid, unfunny jokes? that is a fair criticism, but i amuse myself (which is quite easy on this holiday) and that's all that counts. i'll shut up now.

jesse (April 20, 2007)

Well, it took me a month to listen to it. And no one else had written a review for it. So I thought I would.

By the way, I was calling "Funeral" flat.

TheMike (April 20, 2007)

I really like this album. That's all I'm going to say about it.

BrandonSideleau (April 20, 2007)

pitchfork loved this record....therefore it must suck. I swear...that has got to be the worst music review site on the planet. There are only maybe 1 or 2 positive reviews I even remotely agree with. I mean, you can't expect everyone to agree with you......but they praised the hell out this album and leave absolutely AMAZING albums bad scores......terrible taste.

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

score is for the book, not the album.

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

why the fuck is this on here?

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

haha, jesse can't win. every time he writes a non-5 star review, everyone is like, "fuck you, why did you even do a review for a band you dont like?" apparently, only fanboys should write reviews.
score is for the album. it's good, but not great.

and by the way, this album is like a month old
i thought this was punkNEWs.org

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)


I'm working on a short story that involves the war-torn city of Beirut as seen by an American woman. It's for a creative writing class. I've included a small portion of it below. Can you punkers and punkettes give me your unbiased opinion on the quality of my writing? Do you find my descriptions evocative, my sentences tight? Thanks!

***Liz Weeden***

"About an hour later something wakes her. She comes out on the balcony again, telling herself to be alert. It is nearly four a.m. and she has a sense of some heavy presence, a grinding in the earth. She leans over the rail and sees a tank come chugging around the corner in the cratered street. Mounted cannon bobbing. She feels the beat of adrenaline but stays where she is and waits. She thinks it‚??s an old Soviet T-34, some scarred and cruddy ancient, sold and stolen two dozen times, changing sides and systems and religion. The only markings are graffiti, many years of spritzed paint. The tank moves up the street and she hears voices, sees people walking behind it. Civilians talking and laughing and well-dressed, twenty adults and half as many children, mostly girls in pretty dresses and white knee-stocking and patent-leather shoes. And here is the stunning thing that takes her a moment to understand, that this is a wedding party going by. The bride and groom carry champagne glasses and some of the girls hold sparklers that send off showers of excited light. A guest in a pastel tuxedo smokes a long cigar and does a dance around a shell hole, delighting the kids. The bride‚??s gown is beautiful, with lacy appliqu√© at the bodice, and she looks surpassingly alive, they all look transcendent, free of limits and unsurprised to be here. They make it seem only natural that a wedding might advance its resplendence with a free-lance tank as escort. Sparklers going. Other children holding roses tissued in fern. Brita is gripping the rail. She wants to dance or laugh or jump off the balcony. It seems completely possible that she will land softly among them and walk along in her pajama shirt and panties all the way to heaven. The tank is passing right below her, turret covered in crude drawings, and she hurries inside and pours another glass of melon liqueur and comes out to toast the newlyweds, calling down, ‚??Bonne chance‚?Ě and ‚??Bonheur‚?Ě and ‚??Good luck‚?Ě and ‚??Salam‚?Ě and ‚??Skal,‚?Ě and the gun turret begins to rotate and the cannon eases slowly around like a smutty honeymoon joke and everyone is laughing. The bridegroom raises his glass to the half-dressed foreigner on the top-floor balcony and then they pass into the night, followed by a jeep with a recoilless rifle mounted at the rear.
It is over too soon. She stays outside, listening to the last small rustle of their voices falling. It is stil dark and she feels a chill in the smoky hair. The city is quiet for the first time since she arrived. She examines the silence. She looks out past the rooftops, westward. There is a flash out there in the dark near a major checkpoint. Then another in the same spot, several more, intense and white. She waits for the reciprocating flash, the return fire,/but all the bursts are in one spot and there is no sound. What could it be then if it‚??s not the start of the day‚??s first exchange of automatic-weapons fire? Only one thing of course. Someone is out there with a camera and a flash unit. Brita stays on the balcony for another minute, watching the magnesium pulse that brings an image to a strip of film. She crosses her arms over her body against the chill and counts off bursts of relentless light. The dead city photographed one more time."

Greenvandal (April 20, 2007)

This is a really mediocre review. This album has so much more going for it then you give it credit for. Bad Vibration/Black Wave is the best track on the whole album. The second halves choral arrangement is phenomenal.

There is nothing wrong with the production and I detect no flatness whatsoever. There is no lack of passion here. It is not an energetic album at all (except for No Cars Go) but it really isn't meant to be so I don't hold that against it. There is a lot of depth and atmosphere here and I think that is where its true strengths are.

This band is just the unfortunate victim of mainstream hype. They are really good - even great at times - but no one in the "underground" is going to give them the time of day because of their success and accolades. I know I didn't give them a fair shake for a long time and now I regret that.

Vincent_M (April 20, 2007)

Felt like I had to chime in: I loved Funeral. Loved it. This...not so much. It seems like a lot of the energy and passion captured by the first record was lost in the transition to a larger scale on this record. I can't find a track with the raw emotion of Rebellion (Lies.) Not that it's bad...in fact, about half the tracks are very listenable. Just doesn't cut to the core like Funeral did. I agree with the score.

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

This is a pretty weak review. Opinions on the record aside, the reveiwer might want to learn to write.

WarIsPeace (April 20, 2007)

Good review. I like this album better than their previous stuff. It's nothing great, but you can see the have the potential to write a great album in the future. Unfortunately, I have yet to see them live.

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

"Why bother reviewing this album with the attitude of a 'hater'? Don't like the band? Don't review the record! You're an idiot."

What? It sounds like Jesse was nicer to this pile of mediocre than he should have been.


Albert_Belle (April 20, 2007)

What's wrong with And Justice For All...?

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

un deux trois dit miror noir!

dev (April 20, 2007)

I thought it was a good review. I haven't even heard the album. I liked most of the tracks on "Funeral" though.

youwinalemon (April 20, 2007)

Not quite Funeral, but brilliant in its own right. Love it.

danperrone (April 20, 2007)


historypeats (April 20, 2007)

Two of my favorite songs on here are "Black Wave / Bad Vibrations" and "Ocean of Noise." Weird.

Either way, "Funeral" is better, but I was happy with this album as well.

adam (April 20, 2007)

For whatever reason I treated this like it was a 90s record release. I was convinced that I was going to pick it up so I avoided most of the pre-release stuff online. The day of the release I went to the record store, grabbed the fancy-shmancy deluxe edition off the rack and scurried home to dig through it with a pair of headphones... I can't say I've done that with much stuff lately in this digital world...

all in all I'm quite happy with this record. Jesse's right that the first 4 or 5 songs would make an absolutely brilliant EP, but overall I enjoyed this a little more than Funeral (which I was late to pick up). If this is what the mainstream critics are going to fawn over I'm ok with that.


eYESLIKEBOMBS (April 20, 2007)

It took me like two months to enjoy Funeral (And I eventually enjoyed it quite a bit.) and I'm still not into this...hopefully it gets better with age.

thus_spoke_sean (April 20, 2007)

I really did not like this album, and I think that it was a huge step back from "funeral." Not because of budgets, production, horn sections, or anything else. But because this is an album made up of pretty bad songs. There are a few exception namely 'No Cars Go' and 'Keep the Car Running' but overall I was hugely dissapointed in this album. Really I just think this is terrible song writing from aband that has proven they can do much better.

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

get this hipster indie rock shite out of here. its PUNKnews for fucks sakes!

jesse (April 20, 2007)

"And Justice For ALl" was a production disaster. There were only mids, no highs or lows, so the whole album sounded flat. The kick drum was on the same level as the snare, so there was no bass behind it and no treble behind the snare. Flat.

Not-To-Regret (April 20, 2007)

I'm sorry but "Ocean of Noise" is an amazing song; not very derivative if you ask me, a pretty straight forward ambient rock song with a catchy bass line and mellow tone. Its not an album breaking any new ground its just some decent rock music. I'd kill to see them live based on show reviews I've read. It's too bad indie music has already blown up into the mainstream but it'll fade eventually, as grunge and boy bands did... now if only mainstream rap would follow suit...
On an unrelated note, I just listened to Pinkerton for the first time in ages; that album is fucking catchy and well written. Aside from 2 or 3 songs I forgot how damn good some of those tracks are.

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

I thought it was an awesome album. (Antichrist Television Blues) reminds the best of Springsteen, and Black wave/Bad Vibration's second part is just so moving.

Bad review.

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

Why bother reviewing this album with the attitude of a 'hater'? Don't like the band? Don't review the record! You're an idiot.

riversmonkey (April 20, 2007)

Terrible review - can you please explain the Metallica reference

colin (April 20, 2007)

there's three or four solid tracks on this. rest is mediocre.

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

Probably the worst review I've ever read. What makes it even worse is the fact it thinks it's smart.

OverDefined (April 20, 2007)

Absolutely derivative crap. I cannot stand this.

Archangel (April 20, 2007)

"Is it any good? I guess that's subjective."

... wow. Really?

Scruffy (April 20, 2007)

I haven't heard this one, but I have to say that, for all the fawning over this band by those like Pitchfork, I expected to hate them. Their first album was decent. I don't see why everyone flipped the collective lid, but, unlike most stuff Pitchfork recommends, I enjoyed what I heard.

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

"Most songs from the first album sounded a bit too murky and just as flat as Metallica's And Justice for All..."

WTF? Did you even listen to Funeral? This album may not be as good as Funeral but it sure as hell is better than 85% of what's out there.

Anonymous (April 20, 2007)

I hear these kids really like the emo today. Maybe that's the reason why? I saw one with a goddamned fishhook in his lip yesterday.

BrandonSideleau (April 20, 2007)

Mainstream music critics are going nuts over this album for some reason.....and judging from it's billboard placing so are people in general....I don't get it. I mean, I haven't listened to much from this group.....but what I have heard isn't anything special.

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