All-Time Albums: #47



Black Mirror 4:13
2 Keep The Car Running 3:29 (UK single, #56)
3 Neon Bible 2:16
4 Intervention 4:19 (UK single, #81)
5 Black Wave / Bad Vibrations 3:57
6 Ocean Of Noise 4:53
7 The Well And The Lighthouse 3:56
8 (Antichrist Television Blues) 5:10
9 Windowsill 4:16
10 No Cars Go 5:43 (UK single, #85)
11 My Body Is A Cage 4:47

Probably the best thing about the second half of the Noughties was the appearance and rise of Arcade Fire. Having made waves with Funeral, their debut album, in 2004/2005, Neon Bible took them to the next level with the arena-friendly alt.rock of Keep The Car Running and, especially, the thrilling rush of No Cars Go (a sort of lo-fi Where The Streets Have No Name filtered through a Mellon Collie-era Smashing Pumpkins lens).

Neon Bible debuted at #2 in the UK, and the following two albums would both enter at #1. Even now, their highest charting single remains the #19 peak of Rebellion (Lies) from Funeral.

There is an aesthetic in everything Arcade Fire produce, from the sleeves to the production to the unusual lyric matter, which sets them apart from pretty much everyone else. The sound at times is so retro it’s positively antique, and the record covers (particularly in the Funeral era) had a Victorian quality to them. It’s a trick which Smashing Pumpkins attempted in the mid-90s, with a degree of success, but they couldn’t (or didn’t) make it last.

Arcade Fire built on that anthemic otherness, to the point where a lot of people began to take notice of them (Chris Martin surely based the entire image and concept of Viva La Vida on the band). There are also comparisons with REM’s Automatic For The People, in the use of acoustic instruments and a left-field worldview to create something which appealed to the masses. It’s alternative yet not obtuse. Mysterious but not impenetrable.

It took some doing to better Funeral, but with Neon Bible they managed it.

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