At this point there’s no debating that David Byrne is a musical icon and the fact that American Utopia is his first solo project in almost 14 years is reason enough for me to give it a listen. Most artists his age and with his track record might rest on their laurels and take the “easy” route of paying fan service with approximations of past music – but not David. He’s always been pleasantly weird and experimental and he once again tries to push the musical envelope. What results from that sincere push is at best, a mess however. It’s a mash up of different sounds and influences that, when it works, can be refreshing and exhilarating, but those moments are far too often undercut by clunky breakdowns and unnecessary introductions of new elements. But the worst part is that while I can see what he was going for, the message of his songs often falls flat due to some, for lack of a better word, corny wordplay. Much like St. Vincent’s Masseduction, American Utopia tries to tackle American society and culture in an almost avant garde way but where that album felt sharp and playfully insightful, this one feels clunky.
“We’re only tourists in this life
Only tourists but the view is nice
And we’re never gonna go back home
No we’re never gonna go back home (all right)”
Have you heard American Utopia? What’d you think about it? What’d you think about Byrne’s experimental approach to the music? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your own ratings and reactions to the album.
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