This the second (and last) part of series about Arcade Fire, in preparation of the concert that the writing writer who maintains this blog will be attending.
Here we arrive to the second album in the short, yet successful trajectory (so far) of acclaimed indie art-rock band Arcade Fire. The year was 2004 when they released, to unexpected success, their debut album Funeral. 3 years had to pass until we got another taste of their twisted canadian minds. The year was 2007, and the album was called Neon Bible.Now, there’s a lot of controversy regarding Neon Bible. I’ve heard people call it everything from “sophomore slump” to “a piece of shit”. And I’ve also heard people defend the album, saying that it might even be better than Funeral. I’m usually in the latter crowd, although I’m not sure I agree with the Funeral comparisons. They are just different beasts. Funeral is easier to get into and it’s a very happy album, while Neon Bible is darker and slower, it takes more time to love it.
The rumors around the conception of the album are also quite controversial. Some say, and this is the most interesting one to me, that after the band had the success of Funeral they bought an old canadian church and remodeled it as a studio where they recorded the majority of this album. That’s where the whole big gregorian reverb comes from, like the one heard in “Intervention”. Which, by the way, let’s talk about a little. There’s this whole theme in the album about modern societies and whatever; and there’s all these stories that involve that theme. “Be working for the church while your life falls apart / Be singing halleluja with the fear in your heart / every spark of friendship and love will die without a hope”, and also “they can’t find you now, but they’re gonna get their money back somehow”.
Then there’s “(Antichrist Television Blues)” with its whole Jessica Simpson/Lindsay Lohan theme and the mockingbird imagery. “If my little mockingbird don’t sing then daddy won’t buy another diamond ring”. This album is filled with moments like that. That’s probably why it’s so dark and shady. It’s really not easy to get into, I guess that’s where all the hate comes from. It’s misunderstood, like Jeff Tweedy (“I’d like to thank you all for nothing at all!”). But I like it. I think it’s the perfect middle between Funeral and The Suburbs. Like the bridge that connects them. A really long, creepy bridge. Funeral was filled with all these crescendos, all these highly emotional moments that had a build up. The Suburbs has none of those. Neon Bible had some. “No Cars Go”, “Keep the Car Running”, and especially “My Body is a Cage” come to mind. The last one has the perfect definition of a crescendo, but it’s not a happy moment at all. If anything, it’s the darkest moment in the whole album, and the perfect closer for a great album.
By the way, I have mixed feelings about “No Cars Go” being on this album. It had already been in their first EP, but they put it here again, in a remastered and re-recorded version. I think it was a bit useless and I would have rather them having a new song that I hadn’t heard, but also this album needed that song to be complete. There aren’t many moments like that song in this album, if at all. It’s a bright light in a sea of darkness. In an album where most songs talk about not quite happy themes, here comes a song that has the most catchy feeling ever and some really touching lyrics and it’s like “are you lost, ‘No Cars Go’? Do you need any help to find your mom?”. Still, I love you, “No Cars Go”.
And then there’s “Windowsill”. I really like that song. I don’t know why, but I usually think of that song at unusual random times. Like, I’ll be walking and out of nowhere its lyrics como to my mind. “I don’t want to live in America/my father’s house no more” or “MTV, what have you done to me?” or “I don’t want the salesman coming after me” and “I don’t want to see them at my windowsill”. It really sums up the whole album. Crisis, desperation, boredom. Powerful lyrics, the ones in this album. I don’t think I’ve ever unwillingly memorized and analyzed the lyrics of an album just by listening to it repeatedly, not like I have with this album. I really couldn’t chose between Arcade’s 3 albums. Funeral has the feelings and the memories and the emotion, Neon Bible has the darkness and the harshness and all that, and The Suburbs is The Suburbs.
Now, with Funeral and Neon Bible out of the way, and The Suburbs having been “First Look’ed” a while back, we continue with a new feature that I was going to present in the Spoon In Retrospective series but didn’t have time to. This is a new thing for the In Retrospective section. Here, I will go into detail as to what my favorite setlist, even if it is very unrealistic, would be. This is in no order, and rounded up to 20 songs, which is what is usually played in a regular concert. Here’s The Strangulation‘s wishsetlist for Arcade Fire at Teatro Estudio Cavaret:
1. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
2. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
3. Crown Of Love
4. Wake Up
5. Rebellion (Lies)
6. In The Backseat
7. Keep The Car Running
9. Ocean of Noise
10. (Antichrist Television Blues)
11. No Cars Go
12. My Body Is A Cage
13. The Suburbs / (Continued)
14. Ready To Start
15. Empty Room
16. Month Of May
17. Deep Blue
18. We Used To Wait
19. Suburban War
20. The Woodlands National Anthem OR Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)
Really, this is the one concert where I don’t give a fuck what they play because I know they will make a great job at it. The concert is in less than 24 hours and I’m very, very excited. This is probably my favorite band. Sorry, My Morning Jacket, you were very, very close.
As the writer writes this, Arcade Fire played the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City 2 nights ago. The day before the writer wrote this, they played at Guanajuato, Mexico. And in less than 24 hours, they will play at the Teatro Estudio Cavaret in Guadalajara, which the writer who writes the writings on this written blog will be happily attending.