I don’t know that I’m saying anything controversial if I admit that Neon Bible – turning fifteen years old this week – is probably Arcade Fire’s best album, pound for pound. A new Arcade Fire record is always interesting in parts, but never has the band been as consistent as they are on this album.
I like the way the opening of “Keep The Car Running” feels like you’re seeing behind the curtain a little; the strings play a few dissonant notes while the mandolin comes in over the top. It sounds like an orchestra tuning up before launching into some epic piece of music from a time gone by.
Neon Bible jumps all over the show musically: the strings and mandolin give way to the church organ drive of highlight track “Intervention” (‘I can taste the fear / Lift me up and take me out of here / Don’t want to fight, don’t want to die’) which gives way to the indie-rock conventions of “The Well And The Lighthouse”.
And then there is the one-two punch of closers “No Cars Go” and “My Body Is A Cage”, the former an impossibly catchy harmonic odyssey, the latter a moving ode to the isolation of fame (‘I’m standing on a stage of fear and self-doubt / It’s a hollow play but they’ll clap anyway’). It might be the best closing to an album of all time. I love this album.
CLTM (Chris Listens To Music) is my attempt to listen to a new album every day; you can follow my efforts on Instagram here (and send recommendations), and if you like what I’m doing, support my efforts by shouting me a cuppa at Buy Me A Coffee.