David Byrne, former leader of Talking Heads, & St. Vincent, former member of The Polyphonic Spree, have released their album, Love This Giant. Recorded over two years, largely at Water Music in Hoboken, NJ, the album is a collaboration in the truest sense of the word, with Byrne and St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) co-writing ten of the albums twelve tracks, and each artist penning one song individually. The album centers around an explosive brass band and is propelled by John Congletons drum programming. There was no delineating what the roles were, explains Clark of the recording. Its a collaboration Im truly proud of. The record favors idiosyncratic horn arrangements over traditional guitar/drum/bass lineup while maintaining a hook-laden rock sound.
Love This Giant developed like many a New York City-bred friendship. Both parties are kind of hazy about how it began, but after a couple of semi-chance encounters, David Byrne and Annie Clark, who records and performs as St. Vincent, embarked upon a creative dialogue that has flourished over the last three years. Curious, mutually appreciative acquaintances became determined co-conspirators, and the result is an album thats brash and, quite literally, brassy. Byrne and Clark spin their intriguingly enigmatic tales, by turns whimsical and dark, backed by a large brass band in lieu of a traditional rock lineup. There is a magical urbanity to Love This Giant: Its as if theyre dancing in the streets, their voices soaring over the rhythms, the melodies, the barely contained cacophony of the city.
Though Byrne and Clark each have an unmistakable sound and persona that have made them such compelling performers on their own, their voices manage to blend naturally, effortlessly, here. Sometimes they trade verses; at others they sing in unison. Like friends who can finish each others sentences, when one takes the spotlight alone, its often with words that the other provided. The brass lends the songs an appealing theatrical sheen while programmed percussion provides a contemporary feel. Though theres no overarching theme to Love This Giant, surreal images of nature dominate the lyrics, most of which were worked on in tandem by Byrne and Clark. The threat of natural disaster promises an emotional epiphany; urban apocalypse gives way to a garden party.
The album, Byrne feels, might surprise those who assume the pair simply gathered a bunch of tunes they wanted to record together. Love This Giant truly became more than the sum of its parts: Its going to be confusing to some people. They will think, as people do, that the person who is singing the song wrote the song. In most cases, the gestation of the music and the words was very collaborative. The Forest Awakes, for example, was a song that I originally was singing, and I had written the words. But then I thought it might sound less pretentious if Annie sings it. Her vocal quality will put a different spin on it, a little bit of lightness. And most of the tracks are like that, very collaborative.
It was incredibly interesting to see how David works and realize how I work as a result of ricocheting my ideas off another person, Clark admits. Its a fun collaboration, for a lot of reasons. David is always looking to the future of music, and hes not nostalgic about anything. People tend to think of nostalgia as a sweet notion, but I think its a little cynical, as if what happened in the past is better than what can happen in the future. People can end up just doing these genres studies. Im not interested in doing that and neither is David, so we kept pushing each other.
"It's not surprising that David Byrne and St. Vincent's Annie Clark were drawn to work together. While they're hardly sound-alikes, they are both keen but somewhat detached observers of the human condition who make music that's equally cerebral and passionate...For all the braininess and wildness on display, there's also a sweetness to the album, particularly on 'Outside of Space and Time,' which sings the praises of physics-defying devotion. Given all the things Byrne and Clark pack into Love This Giant, it's a remarkably catchy and concise set of songs featuring some of the most vibrant work that either one of them has produced. " - Heather Phares, allmusic.com
"This pair of wonderfully hard-to-define talents, who over a three-year gestation period seem to have found a glorious common ground for songwriting and harmonizing, has succeeded in fashioning an utterly original shard of brass-band-meets-layers-of-drum-programming, all of it overflown by the delicate voice of Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, and the recognizable keen of the Talking heads' former big-suited frontman, David Byrne... Byrne and Clark each has just the kind of curious, offbeat, artistic sensibility needed to actually make an angular art-rock project like this a crashing, tuneful, uncommonly bright success... Literally every track is a fascinating study in how to provocatively and ingeniously incorporate horns into edgy art-rock tracks... Repeated listens reveal this music to be so intricate that it's actually incredible that it only took three years to create. Blow on!" - Robert Baird, Stereophile, December 2012, Editor's Pick: Recording of the Month
David Byrne (former member of Talking Heads)
St. Vincent (former member of The Polyphonic Spree, has collaborated with Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens)
2. Weekend In The Dust
3. Dinner For Two
4. Ice Age
5. I Am An Ape
6. The Forest Awakes
1. I Should Watch T.V.
5. The One Who Broke Your Heart (feat. The Dap-Kings & Antibalas)
6. Outside of Space & Time