Indie royalty past and present David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark have come together to create an album quite unlike everything else you may be listening to.
Clark is a critically acclaimed, fanatically adored pillar in the indie scene, a crafter of three superb solo albums who has also performed with indie superpower Sufjan Stevens.
As for Byrne, he was simply the main man in legendary band The Talking Heads, a winner of Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe awards and a resident of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who has collaborated with luminaries ranging from Brian Eno to The Dirty Projectors. There’s a wee bit of talent involved here.
That sort of talent is unlikely to fail, and these specific artists especially can’t help but create something interesting. “Love This Giant” is superbly put together, was clearly a joy for the two to create and is even more fun to listen to (and dance to, in that herky-jerky, awkward manner of Byrne in the appropriately black-and-white video for “Who”). Byrne and Clark quite clearly know who they are and what they’re good at while still branching out creatively, leading to a 12-track album that is remarkably cohesive and smooth.
Again, the album is unlike most others, a distinction it achieves by being the wonky child of its unique parents. The pair split writing and performance duties 50/50, a ratio quite evident in the album despite the relative lack of intoxicating St. Vincent guitar riffs. Byrne’s indomitable, unmistakable voice shines throughout, as do his robust, uncanny creative choices. I’m not sure whether a track like “I Need to Watch TV” will retain listeners’ intrigue at its shamelessly bizarre bounce, but I sincerely hope the appeal of this album’s jauntiness doesn’t fade.
Clark’s vocal versatility leaves one wondering whether there really is only one woman behind all those voices as she plays wonderfully off Byrne and anchors the more straightforward tracks. Whereas Byrne cannot help but be expansive, Clark’s ever-lovely voice can handle quick quirk (“Weekend in the Dust”), cool crooning (“Ice Age”) and laid-back luster (“Lazarus”)–basically, just about anything.
Though built to support the tremendous voices present here, the rest of the music is also worth paying heed to. Excessive use of brass underscored by odd beats and percussion are the most frequent choice, amping up the off-kilter aura pervading “Love This Giant.” I’m running out of adjectives – wonky, zany, quirky, bizarre. Pick a few, spin them in a positive manner and apply liberally.
It’s dishonest to write a review devoid of criticism, but it would simply be the nittiest of picking to do decry much here. As long as the initial expectations are for an abundance of fun and a showcase of talent and not for a life-changing event (lasting value is the only significant question mark), it’s difficult to be disappointed–unless you simply don’t enjoy this sort of music. “Love This Giant” was all it was hyped and hoped to be–intelligent, creative, fun and simply good.