11 April 2007

Today was a good day for mail

Sufjan Stevens' Enjoy Your Rabbit and Arcade Fire's Neon Bible

2001's Enjoy Your Rabbit was the last Sufjan album I had left to buy. I hesitated because I'd heard less-than-savory things about it. There's disharmonics, there's manipulated sounds, there's gratuitous nose for noise's sake. Not to mention the clinically sparse east-meets-west contradictions in the graphic design artwork.

But there is also a warm quality to the spoken Chinese, the electronic beats and the robotic bells. The underlying structure of many of the songs reflect later works: In "Year of the Dragon" one clearly hears synthesizer flourishes echoed in Michigan's "Tahquamenon Falls," and Sonic Youth inspired electric guitar in the title track found on several tracks on 2006's The Avalanche.

I'm a bit partial to Year of the Rooster being that it's my own zodiac animal.
Mr. Stevens himself is a Rabbit:

People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and being conscientious, never back out of a contract. They would make good gamblers for they have the uncanny gift of choosing the right thing. However, they seldom gamble, as they are conservative and wise.

Pretty accurate I'd say!
Kicking off the album with a brief nod to his label Asthmatic Kitty and ending with a dreamy, floaty, ethereal vocal called "Year of Our Lord," this is a solid opus not to be lightly shelved by fans of Sufjan's later works.

Sufjan Stevens - Year of the Ox.mp3

This might be old news, but did you know that Arcade Fire is really awesome? S'true! I'd be the last to bash eclectic instrumentation in indie rock, but no amount of skepticism could have prepared me for a church organ, of all things! Neon Bible, while lacking a few of the highs 2004's Funeral provided, is far and away a more cohesive, directed work, and a more solid album throughout. "Keep the Car Running," while reminiscent of Joy Division, sets the stage nicely for upbeat if moody tracks like "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" and "The Well and the Lighthouse."

The real punch in the face for me still is "Intervention." Rumored to be a political song about the war in Iraq, the richly orchestral piece is what I'd describe as heavy acoustic. It's got enough atmosphere to start a planet. One minute in my ears were held in rapt attention. Two minutes in my mind was blown. The time the three-minute mark rolled in, my face was so melted as to leave my corpse unidentifiable.
But don't take my word for it:

Arcade Fire - Intervention.mp3

1 comment:

Jeremy Edwards said...

You got those in the mail? All I got were bills. I think we should switch addresses.