David Byrne and St. Vincent – Love This Giant


Artist: David Byrne and St. Vincent

Title: Love This Giant

Label: 4AD

Rating: 7.4

Talking Heads’ founder and primary songwriter David Byrne has collaborated with Annie Erin Clark, a.k.a St. Vincent to produce a twelve track album due for release this September. Love This Giant is a brass infused album full of contrasting ideas and sounds.

Clark explains on the album website just how the coupling began; “We started our collaboration around the fall of 2009 after being approached by Housing Works to write and perform a night of new music for charity. We decided to center the music around a brass band and began sending ideas back and forth in every form: wordless melodies, melody-less songs.” And indeed the brass band is very prominent in all of the songs on the compilation but what is most striking is how Byrne’s distinctive voice contrasts well with Clark’s softer, higher tones.

Byrne said of the process; “The writing was truly collaborative: sometimes Annie would send me some synthesized versions of brass or guitar riffs and I would arrange them a bit and write a tune and words over them; other times this process would be reversed and I would send some musical ideas to Annie for her to write over.” He adds; “On some songs I re-wrote the words about three times before I hit a direction I felt worked!”

Opener “Who” is a fun, up-beat starter track – Byrne’s vocals striking and recognizable, Clarks’s soft backing vocals in before a crazy number of key changes. The following song “Weekend In a Dust” is full of more funky brass sounds whilst “I Am An Ape” showcases lovely vocal harmonies and a catchy chorus – it’s a grower. The rhythm ebbs and flows forward in “The Forest Awakes” and is quite jerky in parts. Clark sings; “It’s funny with words how the meaning keeps changing but somehow the meaning will find you”. Byrne takes the lead in “I Should Watch TV” before they duet again in “Lazarus”.

“Lightening” includes a chilled brass opening that mixes with Clark’s quirky, quippy vocals. In “The One Who Broke Your Heart” it’s back to Byrne’s vocals leading over lively brass, the song plays on biblical notions; “In the garden of Eden on a hot summer day, we were totally naked outside that small cafe. Am I the one you imagined, am I heaven or hell?”. Clark acts as a backing singer here.

Closing track “Outside Of Space and Time” begins with more traditional brass sounds, certainly slower and more emotional than some of Love This Giant. Overall it is a playful collaboration with a refreshing brass basis and simple compositions with an emphasis on voices and ideas.

Reviewed by Heather Welsh.