March 29, 2007

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Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
Merge Records, 2007

It could be that Arcade Fire’s desire to visit alt-weirdo brittleness upon the world has staled (yours would too if you had to play “In the Backseat” once every 24 hours), but it’s more likely that Win Butler’s finally realized that his ability to write frighteningly original (fine, marginally Chills-like) anthem-rock makes him not such a bad guy after all. Anti-heroes for a Napoleon Dynamite world (one of the core members bears a striking resemblance, even), the band went about the promo thing same way as Arctic Monkeys, and if you had to pay for this record, well, you’re just not worthy and whatnot. Unlike the Monkeys, though, epic legitimacy drips from nearly every song, an experience you’ll miss if you don’t listen to your inner voice and give the record more than one pass. Upon first listen, the commuter-baiting “Keep the Car Running” makes you think of geeks trying to be tough, but given a chance it’s impossibly addictive, if not quite as evil as “Rebellion (Lies)” from 2004’s Funeral. Elsewhere, “Windowsill” re-deploys the strum-‘n’-explode fireworks of “Wake Up.” A+ Eric W. Saeger