Magazine article The Christian Century

Sound Alternatives

Magazine article The Christian Century

Sound Alternatives

Article excerpt

DAVID BOWIE called them his favorite iPod download. U2 used their song "Wake Up" as the walk-on anthem for their last tour. Coldplay and David Byrne are unabashed fans. Not bad for a band that just debuted its second album.

As Neon Bible (Merge) proves, Arcade Fire is as complex as the veiled Christian messages in its music--and worthy of any adventurous listener's attention. The seven-piece band from Montreal, which includes front-man (and former religious studies major) Win Butler, his wife, Regine Chassagne, and his younger brother Will, recorded the album at a 19th-century red-brick church that the group bought and lived in for the project, And Neon Bible--from its title to its coda--appropriates and adorns itself in the sounds, symbols and subjects of Christian culture. In the hands of lesser artists, this would amount to titillation and contrivance. Here, the results thrill--and chill. The album presents theological and theatrical themes in shapes perhaps more befitting a funhouse than the Father's house. Yet the truth informing this jubilant mishmash of postpunk and symphonic sound ignites each song like a shaft of light.

Much of Neon Bible was cut live, with instrumentation that includes a 500-pipe organ, accordion, xylophone, hurdy-gurdy, violin and French horn. …

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