Arcade Fire’s second album, and arguably their best, shot them into the stadium sphere of general public consciousness for the first time. It’s an immense album in several ways, the sound and production significantly grander in scale then the first, plus it takes a widescreen view of the world tackling subjects such as the church, the military, TV evangelists all with an apocalyptic sense of urgency and foreboding. Soon after its release I was excited to see them perform live for my first time, at Latitude festival in 2007 where they’d already reached headliner status.
Black Mirror is a fantastic opener, building tension and then release with a remarkably cheerful rendition of ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, show me where them bombs will fall’ which proves a cathartic singalong at their concerts. Arcade Fire have always been brilliant at creating catchy tunes and chorus hooks with a diverse range of instrumentation and unusual subject matter. Funeral established this with songs such as Wake Up, and Neon Bible takes that further, giving them massive commercial success in the process.
We get a little bit of indie prog rock with conceptual song suites such as Black Wave/Bad Vibrations and The Well and the Lighthouse, in addition to a remake of an early track that appeared on their first EP, No Cars Go. Both this and the equally catchy Keep the Car Running are still staples of their live shows now.
It’s hard to pick favourites from this album, because it is truly a work that needs to be heard as a whole, but Black Mirror is up there along with Intervention and My Body Is a Cage, which is melodramatic solipsism at its best/worst. Sometimes this is my favourite Arcade Fire album, sometimes it’s Funeral, it depends. What it is, is a record of a band reaching for their creative heights, unafraid to look down.
Best Bits: So many, but let’s go for the slow-building refrain at the end of Black Wave/Bad Vibrations: ‘Stop now before it’s too late, been eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate. Nothing lasts forever, that’s the way it’s got to be, there’s a great black wave in the middle of the sea.’
Genre: Indie Rock
Like This, Try This: Peter Gabriel’s version of My Body Is A Cage as one of his reciprocal arrangements on Scratch My Back/And I’ll Scratch Yours. Arcade Fire covered his Games Without Frontiers