When Annie Clark – one of the most inventive and charismatic female songwriter in US today – plans a collaboration with Talking Heads leader David Byrne for a whole album, you hope for something bigger than pop music. Love This Giant offers plenty of the weird vibes and controlled madness characterizing both parts of the duo, an intricate labyrinth taking inspirations in hip-hop, funk, and even electronic music. The brass is the cement of the two artists musical languages: playful and fun on ‘Who’ and ‘Weekend In The Dust’, emotional and opera-like on ‘Ice Age’ and ‘I Am An Ape’, inventive and surprising all the way.
What can get the listener down, strangely, are the vocals accompanying these beautiful pieces of work. Not to say Clark and Byrne miss the point every time but they often sound like reading pretentious short-novels with a theatrical tone, whether it’s about the nature of mankind, a cryptic ode to the forest, or a schizophrenic reflection on the effects of T.V. Also, the melodies can be a little repetitive, although on the flip side ‘Outside Space And Time’ and ‘Optimist’ both have gorgeous, passionate vocals underlining the poetry of the tracks.
The result is that, on second listen, it’s hard not to skip one third of the album, the bit that’s giving you a small headache. On paper, Love This Giant seemed like an exciting project but it figures so many of its creators’ weaknesses (unjustified cryptic lyrics, lack of concision) alongside their qualities (luxurious arrangements, unpredictability of song structure) that it’s not a total success. Fans of one or both artists will have their share of good times with this album, but the rest will surely look for something a little more accessible and engaging to enter Clark’s or Byrne’s musical worlds.