Tuesday, August 3, 2010

CD Review: Neon Bible

This post has the potential to be surprising for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it's been almost a half a year since my last post. I'm sure most of the people who read this blog probably thought I had been kidnapped, and that no one bothered to pay the ransom.

No, the truth is, I just haven't thought of much that would be interesting for others to read. Most of the people I discuss things with are either on my IM, or chilling over at SBG's place. Also, just about any spare creative thought has been going into Spookymilk's Creative Writing Survivor.

The second reason this might be a little surprising is that I'm kicking it off with a review of a CD that's already over three years old. The title isn't a typo, it's time to take a look back at Neon Bible. I loved it back in the day (it was my number one album for 2007), but it's been getting a pretty savage beating by everyone in the wake of the new Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs.

Neon Bible seemed pretty well respected by the populous when it first came out. It got an 87 on Metacritic, which landed it around number seven for the year, and hit a lot of the critics' year end lists (twenty five 'major' top ten lists, by Metacritic's count), and general consensus seemed to be that it was a pretty damn fine package.

This year, though, it seems the only constant thing people have to say about The Suburbs is that it's a 'welcome step back toward the Funeral days'. Many of the places that I've been reading mention how dour Neon Bible was and how the new album thankfully eases up a little bit. So, what happened in the last three years

I think a lot of the dour reputation Neon Bible gets comes from the album opener "Black Mirror". Honestly, I feel it to be the weakest song on the album, and if there's a song that gets skipped, it's generally that one. It sets up the pessimistic attitude, but it almost does it's job a little too well. "Keep the Car Running" just feels like such a perfect album opener, with its soaring hook and driving beat. The light - almost haunting - title track moves perfectly into the massive sounding "Intervention". The songs are all dark and ominous, without much light filtering in, but they're almost all fantastic. In fact, from front to back, I'm not sure I know of another album where I consistently play every song (excluding "Black Mirror").

A couple of listens in, I can tell you that The Suburbs is a great CD, and will be high on my year end list (yes, that means that the lights are coming back on around here - more on that later), but Neon Bible remains one of my favorite albums of all time. I can listen to it today, having heard it countless times already, and still get the same feeling during "Intervention" that I did back in the day. I still whoop and shout to "No Cars Go", and "My Body is a Cage" makes my blood run cold. Detractors should take another listen - in my opinion, Neon Bible is every bit the album Funeral is, maybe even better.

Now. Come to Minnesota, damn it. I missed the last tour because I was busy getting married, and I'd like to check another favorite band off the list.

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