It was recently pointed out to me that I gave Arcade Fire's Funeral the lowest rating of any reviewer in the country. Well, at least according to Metacritic, a site that sorts through music notices and ranks them according to an arcane process I cannot fathom. Also, I have no idea how wide their reach is, so there might have been some writer in Juneau, Alaska that disliked it more.
Actually, I didn't hate the record, I just failed to see how it was the greatest rock release of the decade. I reviewed it well before the hype explosion, so my feelings about it were hardly reactionary. It was just my opinion of the work itself.
Since then, AF have become the darlings of journalists and superstar rockers alike, and they no doubt felt some pressure while recording the follow-up.
I had no expectations regarding their new effort Neon Bible, and I didn't go out of my way to hear it early. Through cursory blog-reading, however, I noticed that fans seem ever-so-slightly underwhelmed.
Today I heard the thing all the way through, and I must confess to really liking it. It captures the feeling of claustrophobia and end-of-days angst gorgeously, while retaining a somewhat scruffy sound.
It arrives on March 6. Here are two samples (industry heavies can feel free to let me know if I need to take 'em down):