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Album review: David Byrne & St. Vincent's 'Love This Giant'

On the bright and funky 'Love This Giant,' Byrne and Clark are psychosocial explorers setting out on an open-ended quest.

September 12, 2012|By Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times
  • Album cover for "Love This Giant": David Byrne, right, and St. Vincent.
Album cover for "Love This Giant": David Byrne, right, and St.… (4AD / Todo Mundo, 4AD / Todo…)

David Byrne & St. Vincent

"Love This Giant"

(Todo Mundo/4AD)

3 stars

Juicy questions come wrapped in chewy textures on "Love This Giant," an album-length collaboration between David Byrne and St. Vincent. He's the deadpan eccentric best known for fronting Talking Heads; she's a sly singer-guitarist (born Annie Clark) beloved by brainy indie types. Acquainted through mutual friends in the New York rock scene, the two first teamed up at the behest of Housing Works, a Big Apple bookstore that previously paired Björk with Brooklyn's Dirty Projectors for a one-off benefit gig.

Yet "Love This Giant" quickly outgrew its impetus: In these 12 songs — built on voice and guitar but generously appointed with bright brass arrangements and funky machine beats — Byrne and Clark sound like psychosocial explorers setting out on an open-ended quest.

"Who is an honest man?" she wonders in the album's breezy opener, "Who," before he adds, "Who's this inside of me?" It's a reframing of the existential anxiety Byrne famously voiced in "Once in a Lifetime" (among many other Talking Heads tunes), and he channels it again in the burbling "I Should Watch TV," which looks to the "weird things" of reality infotainment as a way "to understand the land I live in." Watch out, Honey Boo Boo — here comes your man.

mikael.wood@latimes.com

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