Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Arcade Fire: Neon Bible [Merge, 2007]
To remind us that anxiety is in his bones, Win Butler refurbishes the 2003 plaint "No Cars Go" as a football cheer about the safe place just before sleep. But everywhere else he emerges from his precious privacy and names the things he has to be afraid of, things he shares with all of us--religions run amok, rising tides, the surveillance state, a cowboy-in-chief with so little to lose he could start World War III on a dare. He doesn't tame his fears by naming them, or hint that they can be overcome, although in "The Well and the Lighthouse," he advises the lighthouse: "If you leave, them ships are gonna wreck." But he and his large band of unarty art-rockers rock so hard and so beautiful they can propel anyone who listens past the end of the record. They thud rather than thunder. But what a loud and joyous thud it is. A+