This Season: Hazel Sheffield chooses a brassy collaboration from the ex-frontman of Talking Heads...
From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, September/October 2012
A reviewer at Pitchfork once said that David Byrne of Talking Heads would collaborate "for a half-empty bag of Doritos". That might have seemed true on his last record, a concept album about Imelda Marcos written with the DJ Fatboy Slim and featuring 20 female vocalists. But now, at 60, Byrne has found a partner who can work his eclectic ambition into something so clear-sighted it shines.
She is Annie Clark, the Oklahoma-born musician, half Byrne’s age, who is better known as St Vincent. When they started work together in 2009, Clark suggested using a brass ensemble as the core, both to limit their songwriting and stretch it beyond the confines of rock'n'roll. The result is the glorious honk and rattle of the album "Love This Giant", which fuses Byrne’s carnival rhythms with Clark's gift for a dark interior monologue (and some spooky photography). On tour, they promise a set of "favourites" as well as the new album—and a full brass band.
Love This Giant album Sept 10th, North American tour Sept 15th to Oct 20th
ROCK AT A GLANCE
~ Tim de Lisle
Pet Shop Boys (album, Sept 17th). For 27 years, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have made electronic pop that is elegant, literate, even elegiac. This, their 11th album, was made in LA with Andrew Dawson, one of Kanye West’s engineers. It has the usual one-word title, but for once the word is exotic: not "Please" or "Yes", but "Elysium". Of the two tracks released early, "Winner" is subtly triumphal, "Invisible" sumptuously morose, both absolutely Pet Shop Boys.
Cat Power (album, Sept 3rd). The first new songs in six years from Chan Marshall, a singer who sprinkles troubled magic over everything she touches. She has a drastic new haircut, and sound—sweeping electronica rather than old-school soul.
John Cale (album, Oct 1st; European tour, Oct 3rd-23rd). Rock’s most prominent viola player, still vibrant at 70.
Muse (album, Sept 17th; European tour, Oct 16th to Dec 18th). Their Olympic theme may have been charmless, but in concert these prog-rockers from Devon are quite something: three men doing the job of 12.
Hazel Sheffield is assistant editor of the Columbia Journalism Review
Tim de Lisle is editor of Intelligent Life magazine and the rock critic at the Mail on Sunday in London