The term sophomore slump has never been less applicable than it is to The Arcade Fire’s second release Neon Bible. The band’s debut Funeral gave the indie rock community a much-needed jolt of fresh, lively, technically fit music. The singles from Funeral were inescapable at in-crowd parties and references to the record appeared in many music publications. However, certain tracks from Neon Bible have surpassed the Funeral singles, no doubt climbing to the top of many iTunes play counts.
If anyone ever wondered why David Bowie supports The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible should make it pretty clear: If David Bowie wrote The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust in 2007, it would sound like The Arcade Fire. Their two-record repertoire is amazingly diverse in sound and feeling. While Funeral is introspective lyrically and explosive tonally, Neon Bible is a lyrical critique of the world and an experiment in extreme tension and release (with an emphasis on the tension displayed in “Ocean of Noise” and “No Cars Go”).
ame The Arcade Fire may be one of the most likeable bands in indie rock. They forego experimentation for the sake of palatable, danceable rock’n’roll. They brilliantly leave all their weirdness for instrument choice and production style while retaining rock’s ancient song structure. True, there are more hits on Funeral but there may be more musicianship on Neon Bible, embodied in songs like “Windowsill” and “My Body is a Cage.”
ame The Arcade Fire are such a great band because their songs are catchy yet structured to convey meaning. Any current debate is not really whether The Arcade Fire are good or whether either of their two records are good, but rather which of the records is better. There may be no resolution to this conflict because both records are amazing. Get them. Decide for yourself.