MONTREAL BAND WINS FBO'S CITIZEN-KANE AWARD*
The New York Times have devoted more column inches to the new Arcade Fire album Neon Bible than a handful of civil wars. Twice their Arts section has talked up the (mostly) Montrealian band, and once the NYT magazine covered the Fire. New York magazine and New Yorker, meanwhile, put positive words in, and the Rolling Stone of indie rock Pitchfork (www.pitchforkmedia.com) called it 'large enough to take on the whole world.'
It will be easy for many of us to dismiss it on these grounds alone, but it's actually worth the attention.
Much of the reviews, and talk, however, will discuss the one-line from the song 'Windowsill' -- where the lyrics weave around the line 'I don't want to live in my father's house no more,' until the slightly voice-raised substitution that we know is coming: 'I don't want to live in America no more.' (The lead vocalist is a Texan who moved to Canada.) The line is unfortunate. It's a far more obvious, more direct line than the Fire normally go far, something more fitting of a far lesser band -- say Nickleback or the Dixie Chicks. Still, it's easy to imagine doting crowds waiting and breathlessly poising themselves to cheer it, as Dylan fans once instantly erupted when the memorized lyrics -- 'even the president of the Untied States must sometimes stand naked!' -- came up in a 1974 live recording of 'It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)' just after Richard Nixon's resignation.
The one-line bonanza of press is reminiscent of last year when the Rolling Stones got more press than a couple civil wars, a World Cup and a mudslide killing 260 people over their absolutely horrible song 'Sweet Neo Con,' which they thinly denied was about George W Bush. Everyone -- from CNN to Yahoo.com to USA Today -- took the bait and discussed the political diss. (No one bothered to note that the light reggae with made-up-lyrics-at-the-mic was one of the worst recorded songs in the past three decades.)
So don't get to uppity over the press love. That the AF is overhyped, and discussed for a rather sophomoric slip on an otherwise remarkable album, is not necessarily their fault. Go with tracks 1, 2 and 10 for a 'sampler.' Then download beyond as you like.
The Failed Bands of Oklahoma gives the Arcade Fire a four-fingered high five.
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY
* The Citizen-Kane Award is awarded to artistic output and travel destinations that meet their seemingly impossibly justified hype or acclaim. Italy, for example, has long earned its CKA for being a travel destination that constantly earns its stripes. The Arcade Fire win a tentative 'Citizen-Kane Award' for the next month.