Thursday, March 15, 2007

Neon Bible

Been listening to Neon Bible on my way to and from work in my new (used) trusty Honda Civic. It's a pretty astounding record:

* Though (2) Keep the Car Running is rousing and urgent, the record really starts with the quiet and dark (3) title track
* Everyone has heard (4) Intervention and it is even better clean (and without the annoying DJ at the end!), the pattern of a build-up to an almost-orchestral close reoccurs on this record over and over and never gets monotonous
* (6) Ocean of Noise is the first great timeless song on the record, stunning musically and lyrically, even better than the excellent Crown of Love on Funeral, it sounds like the accompaniment to one of Ganesh's outstanding personal posts on Brooklyn Masala, ending with wailing, mournful horns and strings
* I hear the influence of Joy Division and New Order in (7) The Well and the Lighthouse, but maybe it's in the ear of the beholder, as the breakdown is more doo-wop than British postpunk
* Critics keep saying (8) (Antichrist Television Blues) is Springsteenesque, maybe it's the first person "Dear God I'm a good Christian man," the despair and desperation of a man losing his faith in the face of the conditions of his life
* (9) Windowsill is the second great timeless song on this record, anchored by the refrain "I don't want to live in my father's house no more," maybe the best song in circulation about life in the Bush years ("I don't want to fight in a holy war"), it's about leaving Texas and taking refuge in Montreal, the paradoxical power of modern music ("MTV, what have you done to me?"), with a simple metronomic guitar chime as its foundation, the lyrics rise and fall majestically, like seeing the valleys and mountains of the Canadian Rockies from the air

* Like Keep the Car Running, (10) No Cars Go is hopeful in the midst of the dark observations of the other songs, it is also rousing and compelling, reminiscent of Rebellion(Lies) on the last album, the multiple musical parts (including a fluttery flutist at the breakdown) are wonderful and create an aural soundscape for the escape ("Women and children, let's go!/orphans, let's go!"), closing with the patented chorus of AF voices and a lifting orchestral arrangement
* (11) My Body is a Cage is the third great timeless song on the record, fusing the personal and political themes of the record, despondent ("I'm living in an age/that calls darkness light") but hopeful ("My mind holds the key"), listen for the full power of the pipe organ at 2:10 and a final upward, swooping turn at 3:35 with a moving organ part that is a fitting end to this record

I want to compare Neon Bible to Joshua Tree, but it wouldn't be entirely correct. The great songs on NB are greater than on JT, though JT is a total masterpiece from first song to last and this record picks up steam as it progresses. Maybe it's more the lyrical content, the feeling beneath the songs, and the creative musicality (it would be a treat to have AF produced by Eno/Lanois at some point). I hope that when you get the record, you enjoy it as much as I do.

1 comment:

Ganesh said...

woo-hoo! there's a blogger in da house!