'Neon Bible' doesn't amaze and enthral to the same extent as The Arcade Fire's debut, 'Funeral', but there is plenty here to please fans of that towering album.
The howling winds and cryptal guitars on opener 'Black Mirror' act as the perfect introduction of the nightmare theme that threads through the band's second album.
The exception is lead single 'Keep the Car Running', which emerges like a bright morning and quickly develops a driving handclap rhythm that lightens the mood in spite of its theme of fleeing demons in one's sleep.
'Intervention' is the album's biggest and probably best track. It boasts an outsized organ intro that hits the ear like the opening credits of a classic horror film at two rows from the front. Orchestral strings, big harmonies and emotive vocals are added to create a rousing polemic that sounds like the better moments of 'Funeral'.
'Ocean of Noise' employs a much smaller sound palette but to nonetheless strong effect. Murky piano notes and plucking electric guitar lead slowly to a climax of strings and horns sounding determined and optimistic tones.
'(Antichrist Television Blues)' sounds to this ear just like Bruce Springsteen - it shares the rapid acoustic strumming and urgently delivered words beloved of the Boss. In a further similarity, Win Butler is musing about religion and post-9/11 America.
'Windowsill' at first seems more personal, but also has The Arcade Fire looking to the outside world. Dark electric guitar chords and ominous strings and horns surround lyrics of impending doom which at one point contrive to rhyme MTV with World War III.
While it shares some of the dark clouds of preceding tracks, 'No Cars Go', a rerecorded demo, feels out of place with its marching drums and confident vocals.
Closer 'My Body Is A Cage' is possibly the darkest track of all. It combines organs grandly tuned to portentous effect and internal torment about living in a society of fear.
So just as The Arcade Fire's debut gave ceremony to the internal anguish of familial tragedy, 'Neon Bible' evokes a wider modern nightmare.
But we are left with a second album that is no less accomplished musically than the first, yet lacks the catharsis that was so emotive and endearing. Perhaps while the band's expression of internal anxiety was unique, their misgivings about the state of the world are much less rare and ultimately less special.