I've never been a fan of the Talking Heads -- and I mean that in the most endearing way possible. Even as a kid I figured David Byrne was a pretentious turd, hell-bent on proving something. Which, at the time I wasn't particularly fond of. That said, as a pretentious turd myself, I randomly decided to grab a copy of Fear of Music the other day to settle my opinion once and for all. This is an increasingly popular catch phrase of mine, but I have to say it again: I was wrong.
I was right on one thing though: David Byrne is a pretentious jerk, and doesn't seem like he'd be particularly fun to hang out with. Yep, that's my kind of dude right there. I picked up Fear of Music because it seems to be the most attuned to my personal preferences. It seems like a bit of a segue into the Worldly ways the band would follow up with while still retaining the pseudo-punk-rockness of their first albums.
There seems to be a sense of seriousness here too, which is apparently different from their earlier stuff. It's not quirky, but the heavy use of minor keys is hard to take too seriously. Sure, it's a bit darker, but it's impossible to remove the goofiness from the basic sound.
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"Life After Wartime" is one of my favorite tracks here, which means I'm really just a single-slut. It's also one of the few tracks with others credited for songwriting, but mostly I think I like this song because it sounds like it has the jumping sound effect from Super Mario Bros.
One of the other co-written tracks is the opener, "I Zimbra." It's a collaboration with Brian Eno, which actually brings me to why I bothered giving the Talking Heads another chance begin with: like everyone else on this staff, I'm a Brian Eno fan. Not that it means anything -- being a Brian Eno fan is like saying you like oranges. It's bound be a commonality because of the inherent inoffensiveness of Eno. But holy Eno, "I Zimbra" is probably 100 times better because of his contributions.
It's weird to me that Eno and Byrne are such frequent collaborators. Where I imagine Eno as the quiet, reserved intellectual type, Byrne strikes me as the obnoxious, weighs-in-on-every-topic type. He's off-putting in the same way someone like Wayne Coyne is off-putting -- he just seems like too much.
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As I get older, I care less and less about what an artist is like personally, and in the case of Fear of Music at least, I've given up completely. It's jocular, raucous music that at least feels something. I'll admit it again. I was wrong to dislike the Talking Heads simply because I didn't like the Odic force I envisioned on David Byrne. He's still probably an ass, but I'm okay with that now.