By Gemma Matthews (@screamethereal)
Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible was released in 2007. The album came as the band’s second LP, and was seen as “the wake”, post-Funeral (the first AF album) by music bloggers and reviewers worldwide. I’m not sure that I would agree with that in its entirety, however. This album reeks of grief, sure – lovely Plath-like romanticised grief – but I can’t say I see the celebration of life in it. Just a lot of sweet, futuristic existential dread. Nice.
So, 10 years on, does it stand the test of time? Or have the band managed to leave their second album behind completely, cemented and buried in 2007?
We start with a cascading opening track, all but transporting us to what we can only assume was then some kind of futuristic storm. Black Mirror ends with an almost apocalyptic crackle, a premonition perhaps of what this album was made for. We are taken then through peaks and troughs, an inconsistency of chopping and changing: beginning with Keep The Car Running and Neon Bible. This pair of tracks could not be more different from each other, the only thing linking them is a tiny undertone of angst. It may just be, however, that that’s the point. The seemingly contradictory trend could arguably be taken as a negative, but perhaps it suggests a range of different experiences without which we would not have the album which lies before us; experiences all linked by the tiring sting of life in the 21st century. And so, the band plays on in the same vein, stung.
What is interesting, though, is just how relatable this album is to life ten years later. With the 1% running amok on a global scale and humans destroying each other every second of every day desperate for some sense of achievement from one-upmanship (not to mention the recent political garbage), perhaps Neon Bible is more relevant than ever. A heady mix of robotic noise and organ music, the old and new are brought together here in some cataclysmic explosion for the senses, whilst also managing to somewhat sedate listeners with the raw and bleak realities which were perhaps only an envisioned nightmare back then, but could not be more present in the everyday of 2017. This album, then, is not what we deserve, but the album we need to survive. Neon Bible might be “the wake”, but what comes after? The moving on.