Showing posts with label david byrne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label david byrne. Show all posts

Monday, March 12, 2018

video review: 'american utopia' by david byrne

So this review isn't quite getting pilloried just yet... okay, I'll roll with that, and just expect the mass subscriber exodus to come later.

Anyway, next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN and Young Fathers, so stay tuned!

album review: 'american utopia' by david byrne

So I've talked a little before about legacy acts, artists who were a fundamental part of the evolution of a specific genre or sound and who have won a certain amount of popular and critical acclaim for whatever they choose to do next, often with a measure of clout and collaborative pull that few could approach. But let's ask an uncomfortable question: what do you do with said acts when the legacy starts to get reexamined, and you come to the realization that while the emperor probably still has some clothes, it's a fair bit less than one might expect?

And yes, I get that by me making that statement even in connection with David Byrne I've set myself up for backlash... but it's hard not to feel like in recent years the narrative has shifted. His reputation as the mastermind behind The Talking Heads has shown more than a few holes in the past couple of years - a reputation many have suspected he achieved by stifling other voices in his group - and while his work with Brian Eno won critical acclaim, many have questioned how influential those pieces were. Even his film scores, one of which netted him an Academy Awards, while the quality is often appreciated in the 80s it gets a lot less listenable when you head into the and parts of the 2000s.

And look, as a fiercely intelligent personality in modern culture and music, I like David Byrne, but the more I delved into his content and themes the more I found myself questioning how much perceptive depth has really been on the table this whole time. I mean, I like self-obsessed deconstructions and wry observations as much as any critic, but just being more clever than everyone else doesn't always add up to more, with the most glaring instance of this being his collaboration with St. Vincent Love This Giant, a stiff and absolutely frustrating affair where two artists who have enough similarities to challenge each other but are instead content with mirrored stiffness. And thus when I say I was skeptical about his newest project American Utopia, a project that Byrne admits was searching more for some abstract uplifting feeling and possibilities than engage with reality, to offer a shred of hope. To me... well, it wasn't a bad idea, and he brought onboard Brian Eno, Sampha, and Oneohtrix Point Never to help, so I had some faith this could be at least interesting over ten tracks running less than forty minutes, so okay, what did he give us on American Utopia?