Every once in a while an album comes along and restores your faith in new music. Love This Giant is such an album. Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and the enigmatic St. Vincent (née Annie Clark) have teamed up to make what is possibly the best male/female musical collaboration since Otis Redding and Carla Thomas’ King & Queen duet LP in 1967.
Love This Giant is the fruit of a three-year collaboration between the two art rockers who were inspired by a Björk and Dirty Projectors’ one-off benefit gig. Byrne and Clark have created an album that has each artist’s distinct sound, yet sounds like nothing they’ve ever released before. Both performers are known to push the musical bar quite high and they’ve somehow managed to push it even further on Love This Giant. It’s funky, catchy, poppy, and will have you tapping your toes from beginning to end thanks to the expansive brass section by the fabulous Dap-Kings and Antibalas backing every tune. The horns are the perfect backdrop to Byrne and Clark’s masterful vocals and quirky lyrics about topics such as nature, beauty, time and television.
Armed with their guitars, the unlikely duo trade verses off each other as eloquently as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Just like Ella and Louis, there’s no romantic undertone; it’s simply two artists who complement each other musically. Even the album cover, with Byrne as a “Buzz Lightyear-like” beauty and Clark as a deformed beast, perfectly complements the pair’s imaginative vision. Love This Giant is sure to please David Byrne/Talking Heads and St. Vincent fans alike.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer David Byrne sounds as fresh as he did on the Talking Heads’ breakthrough single “Psycho Killer” in 1977. As for Annie (aka St. Vincent), she’s just picking up where she left off with her critically acclaimed previous LP Strange Mercy. This woman exudes talent, lyrically and musically. She’s the perfect person to revitalize Byrne’s songwriting and help him reclaim his thrown in the art rock kingdom. If David is king, then Annie is definitely queen.
The tracks where she sings solo, such as “Ice Age” and “Optimist,” are true album highlights. David’s remarkable lead vocals on “I Should Watch TV” are also noteworthy. Nevertheless, it is the duets that really make Love This Giant remarkable. One has to look no further than the infectious “I Am an Ape,” where both artists sing in unison, to realize that vocal harmonies never sounded so hip. As great as Annie and David are, Love This Giant would be far from great without its excellent brass arrangements which make this album stand out on so many levels.
Let’s hope this is the beginning of a beautiful musical partnership. It would be a shame to stop this prolific collaboration so soon. One thing’s for sure, David Byrne and St. Vincent have not finished creating excellent, eclectic music, whether collectively or individually.
Reviewer: Sarah Geledi
IRC: Bill Pulice
You can read more of Sarah Geledi by visiting her webblog at http://goodrockingtonight.wordpress.com/
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