I wonâ€™t call it a tradition – but the fact is that the last couple years Iâ€™ve delayed getting one or more of the yearâ€™s key releases until days before the year ends with a whimper. (Well, you can call it a bang, but it definitely seems a whole lot more like a whimper to me.) Or, to be more accurate, Iâ€™ve waited until the last few days of the year before having a desire to consume music at a rate thatâ€™s unrivaled during most of the year.
This year my end of year album is the Arcade Fireâ€™s _Neon Bible_.
The album kicks off with â€œBlack Mirrorâ€, a typically darkly ride for an Arcade Fire song that sees the band pulling some winks with lines like â€œMirror, mirror on the wall/Show me where them bombs will fall.â€
Suffice it to say that every song on _Neon Bible_ is a near masterpiece, from the children backing the chorus to the sing-song melody of the title track, to the challenging and affecting tone of songs like â€œIntervention.â€ Different things stand out at different times, with some simply incredible moments along the way, like the irresistible bass line on â€œOcean of Noise.â€
â€œIn an ocean of noise/I first heard your voice/Now who here among us/Still believes in choice?/Not I,â€ Butler sings before the album closes with atypically hopeful piano. â€œIâ€™m gonna work it out/Cause time wonâ€™t work it out for you/Iâ€™m gonna work it on out.â€
Itâ€™s not a surprise after some of the stuff on _Funeral_ that _Neon Bible_ is one of the most spiritual albums of the year, which is interesting considering the bands relevance in the market of 20 something indie music lovers. The whole album, down to itâ€™s cover and the Old King James way the lyrics are arranged in the booklet, carries a sense of hymns being sung that are far more interested in challenging the church (if they’re even listening to this stuff?!?) than they are in condemning it. (The album was, if you didnâ€™t know, recorded in an old church the band bought in Canada…)
The albumâ€™s closer is perhaps the best example of this. Grounded by the simple organ chords that distinguish most of the albumâ€™s most religious moments, the song almost follows line by line familiar Christian sentiments presented in a more interesting way, with a lot more conviction. â€œIâ€™m living in an age that calls darkness light/Though my language is dead still the shapes fill my head/Iâ€™m living in an age whose name I donâ€™t know/Though the fear keeps me moving, still my heart beats so slow/My body is a cage that keeps me from dancing with the one I love/But my mind holds the key.â€
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