out of egypt, into the Great Laugh of Mankind, and i shake the dirt from my sandals as i run

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Here's two things about cars:

Yesterday my car was broken into. Someone smashed through the passenger side window, opened the glove compartment, rummaged through all my shit, and ultimately made off with my phone charger, my bluetoof headset, $15 in change and a box of juicy juice. Grape.

Stupidly, this morning I took it to a shop before I'd had a chance to take any pictures of this frankly incredible damage, unprecedented even for my car. Me and she, we've gone through a few scrapes together. So in lieu of what I owe you, public, here are some greatest hits I found in my iPhoto:

Well, there was the time I got that flat tire on Eastern Parkway.

There was the time a Wesleyan food services van backed up on me.

And oh yeah, one time I had a block of wood installed, for safety.

And that's to say nothing of the time my speedometer dropped to zero somewhere in Ohio; or the time my windshield wipers started grinding into the windshield, make a seal-like record-scratching noise; or the time Matt backed up into my car at 30mph, folding his car in like an accordion but cracking my taillight; or the time someone slashed my tires in Middletown; or the time when I was 18 and I backed into my parents' garage too far to the right, taking out my side view mirror; or the two-year period when I drove without a side view mirror at all; or the time I turned too sharply out of the Eisner parking lot, grinding the side of my car into a mailbox.

Man, remember that?

I turn 24 tomorrow, but honestly birthdays are nothing to scream about these days. The big news is that I scored tickets for one of the Arcade Fire's five Judson Memorial Church shows, and I get to go on my birthday.

Neon Bible is the Arcade Fire's new album, in case you have a job or a life. A few days ago Rachel tuned me into the fact that it had already leaked, even though it won't come out until March. I fired up my intellectual property theft contraption and grabbed it.

The Sophomore Album is, almost without exception, a situation where you brace yourself for disappointment. You expect the band to have become too good at what they do, or to have already gotten sick of themselves, or to have phoned it in, or slicked it up, or done it exactly the way they did it before - but no matter what, it will not be what you want it to be. Mostly because you don't have a clue what you want.

What can I say? You know what I'm going for here. Once again I lack the critical faculties to really express myself on this. I like the album. I'm really, really into it. I'm listening to it all the time. I'm listening to it when I'm having a great day and I'm listening to it when I'm miserable. It's good, is what I am saying.

But I really only want to talk about the 10th song on the album, the second-to-last track. This is "No Cars Go", and it's actually an old Arcade Fire song, off of their first EP. In fact, it's the first Arcade Fire song I ever heard, back in the summer of 2004, before their first album had come out and before they were the instant and suspicious toast of blogburg.

I'm not bragging. I mean to say that I heard this song far back in the distant past, free of context except that it was late at night, and I knew I hadn't heard anything like it before. Which is so stupid/trite/unwriterly to say, for sure. But hey. Funeral is great and everything, but in my opinion nothing on it reaches the heights of the moment when they yell "Hey!" in the middle of the first verse in No Cars Go.

Anyway, they rerecorded it for this new album, and amazingly it's been jacked up even further. And again, this feels wrong to be saying. No doubt the reviews will single this track out as the least necessary on the album, a retread to an already-strong track that just diminishes the nuance of the original. And this is why I'm glad that no reviews have been written of Neon Bible yet. Here in this age of innocence, I can still say, This song is a fucking tour-de-force. I love it.

And it's just a better recording of the song, too; it's not even really re-imagined. But the vocals are higher, there are more instruments (I hear a little Sufjan whistle at 2:14), and suddenly the full form of the old song comes out. I actually thought they'd written a new ending for it, but then I went back to the early version and realized that I'd just never noticed it before. iTunes puts this track at 21 plays so far, which I know is a lie - but I promise that every one of those times, the last minute-and-a-half has punched me right in the face.

It sounds like the song is over, like it's basically accomplished everything it's going to. But the punch I'm referring to is the moment when Win Butler steps back to the mic, and rallies the band for one final push. I mean, he may not be addressing the band. He may be addressing us, or he may mean someone else entirely. Maybe he's literally talking to who he says he's talking to. (Babies.)

I don't know if this is the Strongest track on the album. But I know for sure that it's the strongest track on the album - it has muscles, and not the kind that critics mystifyingly refer to when talking about bands that make you wish you understood the appeal of metal. No - this song will break your legs, snap off your head. It's everything good and bad about the idea of the sophomore album. It's the idea of More. It's exactly what this band is about.

The Arcade Fire - No Cars Go


Blogger Ben said...

i don't really like that song.

see you around

2/16/2007 1:00 PM

Anonymous Danniel said...

I absolutely love this song. Neon Bible is great, and this song is what makes the album in my opinion. At 3:44, when everything winds down... it's like the last scene of the movie... when you think it's over... then at 4:08, Win yells lets go, and your kicked ass stands back up and says "No, this isn't over." A heavenly choir of angels summons you off of the ground, and you're looking in to the face of the woman you think you love, you're crying, she's crying, it's raining all around, except for where you are. The song ends, and you walk away saying "thanks for the memories".www.

2/16/2007 10:45 PM

Blogger adam said...

guess I was asking for that one

2/17/2007 12:35 PM

Blogger Mike said...

"Would you like a jello shot Miami? Grape?"

Also: happy birthday

2/17/2007 2:21 PM


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