It’s always extremely exciting to hear something new from the David Byrne, the creator, mastermind and talking head behind the Talking Heads. Byrne takes the opportunity that is American Utopia to address and criticize everything under the sun that you can think of that needs criticizing and some things you didn’t.
American Utopia as a whole isn’t a dud per say but it certainly isn’t one of Byrne’s standout efforts. Each track on the record has traces of the glory that was Talking Heads but are all a touch sleepy honestly. The album starts out with tracks “I Dance Like This” and “Gasoline And Dirty Sheets,” both of which have a bit of sigunare (but dated) Byrne piano and vocal work. What’s interesting about these two offerings is when Byrne’s takes little risks in each and departs momentarily from his usual formula. We’re often but only briefly treated to glimpses of genius; moments of intense robotics, tropical dance, cutting lyrics, serene ambiance.
It’s not until the back end of the record that we finally see what we’ve been looking for from Byrne on this album: beautiful production, interesting and engaging arrangements, his signature vocal inflections, and a bit of a boogie. Are the tracks “Doing the Right Thing” and “Everybody’s Coming To My House” enough to redeem the rest of the album? We’re not sure but they are pretty golden.
American Utopia is out on Byrne’s own Todo Mundo Records and Nonesuch Records. Byrne is going on a massive stadium tour this summer and will be stopping in Berlin of course. He’ll be here with his “American Utopia World Tour” on the 27th of June in the Tempodrom. Hopefully we’ll be able to catch the highs of this record along with his former glory moments both solo and with the Talking Heads.
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