09 October 2012

Review: David Byrne & St. Vincent 'Love This Giant'

Love This Giant
[Todo Mundo / 4AD]

I love it when this happens. When the real thing eclipses the hype. When it's not just-as-good-as-it-says-on-the-tin, but better. Because, when does that really ever happen? Here, with hipster godfather David Byrne (that's meant as a compliment, btw) and St. Vincent aka Annie Clark, via an intriguing collaboration released in the form of debut album Love This Giant. I've said it before etc. but often the end result of these kinds of star-crossed musical meetings is less than pleasing. That is not the case here. Love This Giant is a satisfyingly engaging and enlivening listen, almost throughout. While more often (surprisingly) funky, there are times I feel I'm listening to a musical, and it's obvious why: brass. Lots of brass, and saxophones, and tubas, and such. With guests Antibalas and Sharon Jones' backing band The Dap-Kings on board though, and with some exceptional drum programming, it's one of the coolest musicals ever. But it's a David Byrne and St. Vincent record, are we surprised the musical backdrop is so, well, unexpected? Not really. What is a surprise is how well these two work together vocally, trading inter-locking lines and straight duets with Byrne's characteristically plaintive and robust wail seldom dominating St. Vincent's more gentle, ethereal touch. The analogy of the beauty and the beast has been applied by some, and the folk tale reference is apt; Love This Giant suggests Byrne and Clark have stumbled upon some twisted kind of old folk music and breathed new life into it. Wonderful.

4 stars from 5

Check out the song Who, taken from the Love This Giant album, or link to their website here


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