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Boomkat Product Review:
How on earth do you follow a debut album as overwhelming acclaimed and successful as Funeral? There’s always the danger that given the vast increase in resources at a band’s disposal, any follow-up record will be overwrought or inappropriately swollen by unnecessary instrumentation and production trickery, and Neon Bible is by no means without fault on this count, but somehow these songs match the immensity of their recording budget. ‘Intervention’ is outright awesome, despite suffering slightly from orchestral over-inflation. The song is strong enough to carry the baggage: it’s melodically proximate to Dylan’s ‘With God On Our Side’ with a clutch of Pixies-style chord changes thrown in to roughen up the edges. ‘(Antichrist Television Blues)’ has the kind of desperate, blue collar-themed lyrical haemorrhage that characterises Bruce Springsteen’s early work. Speaking of whom, Butler, Chassagne and co. are clearly indebted to The Boss on the frankly astonishing ‘Keep The Car Running’, where a restlessness and longing for escape hang heavy in the narrative. Oddly, the penultimate track here is ‘No Cars Go’, the standout track from the band’s debut EP, here re-recorded and vastly expanded into an ecstatic, symphonic frenzy. If at any point this record were to overspill into outright excess it would surely be here: the original version of the song was perfectly fine as it was, certainly not requiring any sort of update, but yet again the album’s implausibly exaggerated bombast and widescreen excess seems not unreasonable given the undeniably spine-tingling results. There aren’t many bands who would be able to pull off a record like this. Many have levelled criticism at Sigur Ros for over-egging their already epic pudding once signed to a major label, but you can forgive Arcade Fire their indulgences given how exceptionally well-conceived and masterfully penned these songs are.