I can’t lie – Arcade Fire’s 2004 album, Funeral, blew me away for entire months when I first heard it, and to this day I believe it to be one of the greatest records of the last ten years. Like Merriweather Post Pavilion, it very nearly reaped praise from every damn critic on Earth, but in both instances, the accolades were deserved. Unlike Animal Collective’s rocket to relative stardom, though, Funeral was a debut LP, not another excellent album in a series, not the work of a band that had been recording for a decade and honing their sound for years. It had to have been a fluke, and when the group announced the release of 2007′s followup, Neon Bible, expectations ran relatively low.
To give credit where credit is due, Neon Bible is a great album. It also received its fair share of lauding (though nothing on par with the zealous pan-love of Funeral). If it had been released by a different band, or if it hadn’t been preceded by an emotional juggernaut like their debut, it surely would’ve been showered with even more positive feedback. I have to admit that I could never “get into it” the way I instantly did with Funeral and none of the tracks on Neon gripped me in the way each of the songs on its predecessor did (“Black Wave-Bad Vibrations,” especially the striking last 2:17 of it, came awfully close), but all things considered, it’s nothing to sniff at.