Over twenty years after the Talking Heads, the band’s former frontman David Byrne seems more creative than ever. Even aside from his numerous solo albums, he’s lately written books on cycling and the nature of music, advocated for cycling itself, and crafted an intricate disco opera with Fatboy Slim about Imelda Marcos, former first lady of the Philippines. (Less recently, but still a personal favorite of mine, was his “I ♥ PowerPoint” tour.) Now we have Love This Giant, a new musical collaboration between Byrne and singer-songwriter Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent. Having originally joined forces on a benefit for the AIDS and homelessness charity Housing Works, the two decided to go ahead and create an entire album together, engaging a brass band and crafting a dozen songs well up to Byrne’s eclectic, cerebral, and surprisingly funky standard (even if those three descriptors, though appropriate, have become clichés regarding any music in the sphere of the Talking Heads).
At the top of this post, you’ll find embedded the video for “Who,” one of the tracks which features the vocals of both Byrne and Clark but on which Byrne takes the lead. Just above, you’ll find “Weekend in the Dust,” with Clark at the top of the mix. But why settle for YouTube videos when, at least for a little while, you can stream the entire album at NPR.org?
For a recording artist of long standing, Byrne has displayed an unusually clear head about the changes underway in the commerce of music: “The ‘industry’ had a nice 50-year ride,” he once blogged, “but it’s time to move on.” With that in mind, he and Clark will launch a 24-date tour later this month which promises many things, including but not limted to “complex choreography.” Still, no matter the state of sales and distribution, it always comes back to how strongly the music compels. “A lot of people, hearing a description of this project, assumed that it might be an artsy indulgence,” Byrne writes on Love This Giant‘s site. “But somehow it didn’t turn out that way. It’s a pop record—well, in my book anyway.”