Saturday, April 28, 2007
Why the hell do I like Neon Bible, pt. 1
Are you ready for a few posts about why the Arcade Fire's Neon Bible is currently "my second favorite album of the year*"? I'm not sure I am either, but I've been thinking about the issue long enough that it's going to happen. I looked online to see what exactly Win Butler is singing about in hopes that it would either strengthen my convictions or knock it down a notch. But while the lyric sheet wasn't at all impressive, it had little effect on my appreciation. Maybe the muffled mediocrity is a good thing? It gives their BAR** enough ambiguity to let me appreciate it as mere college rock crossover beauty; their goal isn't clear aside from cathartic nervous crescendos. The SNL performance didn't grab me - just some quaker kids in a Waterboys cover band ("The Big Music!") with less endearing stage shtick then they had on Conan in 2004 - but on CD the songs take shape.
And what a mediocre shape it is! The humblest, least offensive BAR yet? Rock can't do better than that? Or rather, I get more joy out of that than almost anything else I've heard this year? Why doesn't harsh analysis make me play the album less?
*#1 being Sound Of Silver, in which a aging hipster realizes that being jaded about the scene is really about mortality, putting his post-techno Enoisms to better use.
**Benign Arena Rock - an ironic term for artists who seem to think their oversized pop music helps them Make The World A Better Place. Not just naughty, not just a self-adoring laser show, not a passive-agressive outpouring of psychedelic neuroses, not We Will Rock You, but Making The World A Better Place. Springsteen, U2, Green Day. You can not like their music, but you have to "appreciate where they're coming from." In principle, I think it's a way for artists to protect their ego trips from criticism and some serious False Idol bullshit. But I'm a liberal, well-meaning boy raised on the stuff.