Not all gratifications should be instant. Such is the case with the Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible." Unlike the hair-trigger sonic punch of the Montreal band's first full-length album, "Funeral," the impact here is gradual, revealed only over the course of extended listens.
Fans of the band's lush, symphonic take on indie rock won't be disappointed, however. The septet's grandeur and beauty endure; it's only that the burn is more deliberately paced.
Even with its arsenal of keyboards, brass and percussion, the heart of Arcade Fire is arguably singer-songwriter Win Butler's sad wail and wife Regine Chassagne's plaintive violin. The couple's feverish union sparks exquisitely on songs such as "Black Mirror," "(Antichrist Television Blues)" and "Intervention" which, with its fiery, emotive crescendo most closely echoes "Funeral's" showy makeup.
The album's most glorious moment, however, comes as a bit of déjà vu. "No Cars Go," which originally appeared on the band's 2003 self-titled EP, is more grand here, opulent and fully realized. And, as the album's second-to-last track, it feels like both a crowning achievement and a notice to fans.
The Arcade Fire can rock out when it wants to, but sometimes less really is more.
"Neon Bible" is released by Merge.
***1/2 out of four stars.