Review: David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant
Published on September 25th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Yer man of Talking Heads legendariness remains as exuberant and funkily freaked-out as ever, and on Love This Giant his skittish melodiousness harmonises to lovely effect with St. Vincent’s smoother, by-turns-breathy-and-attitudinal vocals over a set of swaggering, tangential, sinisterly sun-kissed, brass-accompanied electro-pop. Furthermore, it’s a bloody revelation.
“Everyone gets up when you sit down” posits St. Vincent Andre 300-ishly on “Weekend in the Dust”, inadvertently (or otherwise?) reflecting how at once peculiar and downright authoritative this collaboration LP manages to sound while rarely being anything less than totally compelling and involving. If albums could talk, this one would be saying “move, bitch, get out the way!” with the assurance of an elder statesman recognising the swarms of Shoreditch chic and Cowell crap polluting the joint, and righteously denying the blighters’ right to exist within its vicinity, perhaps even within the same realm.
That this will pass largely unnoticed by anyone but the die-hards is for Rocksucker depressingly concomitant with the notion – nay, absolute conviction – that if this was the work of a new band then they (yes, they) would be falling over themselves to declare them the new this or that, wetting themselves as they did, so that that they’d all end collapsing in some pissy heap.
After as slyly, sexily silly and sophisticated an opening trio as you could wish for in “Who”, “Weekend in the Dust” and “Dinner For Two”, “Ice Age” comes accross like Tune-Yards zoning into a groaning synth didgeridoo (syntheridoo?), while “I Am an Ape” leads baroque strings and lines such as “In our garden stands a statue of the man who won the war / His expression, tender yellow / Every nation near and far” and “A masterpiece / A hairy beast” into the utterly wonderful imagined result of Neil Hannon joining Hot Chip.
“I Should Watch TV” is our stand-out track: Byrne explains how he used to think he should watch TV in order to keep abreast of his fellow earthlings’ activity, all over a gurgling electronic pulse, a sinister, rumbling, syncopated bass and a number of majestic little melodic shifts. It’s a masterstroke of strange, instinctive, distinctive songwriting in the midst of a really rather strange comibnation of parping trumpets and gulping, throbbing beats, and it’s one of the best things we’ve heard all year.
St. Vincent veers discomfortingly close to Florence territory on “Lazarus”, but atones with some stunning use of slight dissonance on her “cool water” backing vocals, and then there’s “Optimist”, which sounds like a more theatrical version of Yoshimi-era Flaming Lips (and yes, we know Yoshimi is being turned into a stage play): it’s wonderful, it really is, but will the world take notice?
Over to you, world. Here’s a sterling example of highly-evolved pop music: dare you stop listening to the new Killers LP for just long enough to hear what it’s like?
Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!