David Byrne

American Utopia


Mar 08, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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It has been some 14 or so years since we last heard from David Byrne on a fully realized solo project. 2004's Grown Backwards saw the now 65-year-old former Talking Heads frontman caught in between staying true to his immensely quirky and individualistic past and the pressures of adapting that to a new audience which, for the first time may have been blissfully unaware of his past. The group in which he made his name had been disbanded for over a decade at this pointa couple of short-lived reunion tours notwithstandingand the loneliness of this manifested on the record, no matter how much Byrne tried to hide it.

Since then, he has hardly been quiet, offering up new collaborative projects in 2008 (with Brian Eno who finds himself on co-producer duty for American Utopia), 2010 (with Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim), and 2012 (with Annie Clark aka St. Vincent), and all of these releases showed that Byrne was still capable of producing brilliance, even if it was periodically and therefore, largely unsatisfying.

On his latest record, this same truth echoes. Yes, there are some exceptional momentslead single "Everybody's Coming To My House" perhaps the most notable of all, with it's bizarre-yet-enjoyable vocal performance and driving, pulsating underbelly. All too often though, the record proves underwhelming and that, for an artist of Byrne's uniqueness, is tantamount to being a complete failure.

The nature of experimental pioneers is that they will make some truly horrible mistakes, but the thing that keeps you invested as a listener is that there is still a chance that they'll strike gold eventually. Neither of these two extremities are true of American Utopia and, whilst there are flashes of intriguing and exciting music on here, these moments aren't enough to convince anyone listening that the project is a complete success. (www.davidbyrne.com)

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