Arcade Fire released two albums. Everybody agrees that both are growers—you need to listen to them for a few times before you can really love them. The first one may have been called manipulative—several band members lost their family members during the recording, so they called the record “Funeral” and dedicated several songs to their families, most notably the unbelievable closer “In the Backseat”. The record went on to top a lot of critics’ best-of-2005 list. And no, it’s not manipulative—it is really good and all the praise was well deserved.
A week ago they released their new record Neon Bible (Flash). With such a title (taken from a novel) and a booklet with lyrics typeset like bible verses and a black-and-white photograph of a girl reading a book on every page it may look like an overblown and overambitious attempt at a sophomore album. And on the first listen it really sounded like an album full of opening tracks, big-sounding but not too engaging. After a few more listens, though, it took a shape. The next-to-last track, No Cars Go, is my favorite, and probably everyone else’s. The music reminds a little of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight Tonight”, but better. The lyrics are unusual for the band, which often employs wordiness, retro imagery and lines in French—here the lyrics are very simple, short and repetitive. The result is the best rock anthem of the decade so far. And it comes from a bunch of
Canadian Québécois geeks.
Watch the video closely. I would really like to learn to play accordion now.