There seems little doubt now that Arcade Fire have successfully bridged the gap between well-respected cult act to the indie rock monster they are now. They hit the mark with their first album 'Funeral', a passionate, dramatic album but one which seemed to drop dramatically in intensity for its second half. If anything, 'Neon Bible' is even less intense as any post-punk influences they displayed before have now been jettisoned in favour of string-laden mid-paced affairs.
Arcade Fire's songwriter and vocalist Win Butler remains the key figure; somewhat disarmingly his singing resembles Meat Loaf on this record more than ever. That's fine on the relatively frenetic 'Keep The Car Running' but on 'Intervention' the songs reflect Meat Loaf in their OTT arrangements as well. Similarly, 'Black Wave/Bad Vibrations', 'Windowsill' and '(Antichrist Televsion Blues)' are all portentous noise and drama but little poise and - crucially - not much in the way of a tune. Elsewhere, the otherwise plodding 'Ocean Of Noise' is saved by an emotive string finale. The two quieter songs don't come off either as the title track and 'My Body Is A Cage' only show up the limitations of Butler's vocal range. The best songs occur towards the end of the album: a fine chorus lifts 'The Well And The Lighthouse' whilst the excellent 'No Cars Go' appears out of nowhere; it's a strident, concise number which sounds out of place in the context of the record. Overall, though, it's a bit of a mess with the central religious theme being somewhat overridden by songs that are too high on bluster and over-production. A bit like Meat Loaf then.