Review: David Byrne & St. Vincent’s Love This Giant

David Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This GiantDavid Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This Giant (4AD, 9/11/12)


David Byrne & St. Vincent: “Who”

David Byrne has one of the most recognizable voices in music, ranking somewhere between Bob Dylan and Michael Stipe. No doubt this is why everyone wants the former Talking Heads front-man to guest on their records. Dirty ProjectorsArcade Fire, Jherek Bischoff — they’ve all taken advantage of the static friction of that back-of-the-mouth tenor.

But Love This Giant, Byrne’s collaboration with St. Vincent, a woman who’s known more for her multi-instrumentalist abilities than her voice, is the first full-length he’s co-written with anyone other than Brian Eno.

Right away, Love This Giant sounds like a David Byrne project. On album opener and lead single “Who,” a toe-tapper that still manages to be rhythmically complex, the guitars and horns are characteristically crisp, and the tracks that follow are equally smart, equally bouncy. The aforementioned horns, arranged by Tony Finno, actually end up stealing the show, as their dry, funky flourishes knock Byrne’s voice to second place for most distinctive sound, which is less a critique and more a statement of wonder.

With a well-timed release, Love This Giant is further proof that Byrne is actually qualified to write a 352-page book titled How Music Works, which is out now from McSweeney’s.

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