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“Who” is Infectious?

written by: on July 26, 2012

St-Vincent-David-ByrneFrom the start, it was a match made in music heaven.

The collaboration between St. Vincent’s Annie Clark and legendary David Byrne has been in the works for years now. In May 2010, David Byrne wrote a journal entry about the two working together and wrote – “We agreed to do something similar there, though there is no timetable.” Well the time has arrived, and the first track “Who” off their collaborative album Love This Giant, which is due out September 11 by 4AD/Todo Mundo, is perfection.

The duo began working together to create music after they were asked to work on a Housing Works benefit together, which has yet to happen. The request did spark an idea though, as they decided to us a brass ensemble rather than a traditional set-up to minimize sound issues of a smaller venue. Then the idea escalated into, what Clark says is close to a 50-50 album.

“The writing was truly collaborative. Sometimes Annie would send me some synthesized versions of brass or guitar riffs and I would arrange them a bit and write a tune and words over them; other times this process would be reversed and I would send some musical ideas to Annie for her to write over,” Byrne said in a press release.

Sometimes super groups turn out unsatisfying. Often times, one hit song will stand out among the rest of mediocre tunes to fill an entire album, but this art-pop duo has taken too long to perfect their music to disappoint.

Combining the forces of St. Vincent’s lovely falsetto and David Byrne’s psychedelic funk, the first single and opening track of Love This Giant, “Who,” is the perfect blend of each of their prolific style.

Kicking off with a funky horn intro, the song immediately sounds like a modern Talking Heads tune and continues down that path as the drum beat rolls in. Clark and Byrne have such clashing sounds that one fits into the other where the other may be lacking. Although at times it seems like the instrumentals follow just the vocals, the music softens up and blends together about halfway through. And with all St. Vincent tracks, the song gets better with every listen.

Recorded at the Hoboken’s Water Music studios in New Jersey, the duo spent time perfecting their brass section, as they had planned for the event. “Who” is accompanied by a horn riff for almost the entire track, and always when Byrne steps up to the plate. After swapping turns, Clark’s delicate voice and baroque pop tendencies take over.

Several of David Byrne’s prior collaborations crashed and burned (e.g. Here Lies Love with Fatboy Slim), leaving an ounce of doubt, but these two mean business. In the fall, the duo will embark on a North American tour playing the songs they wrote together and songs from both artists’ discography. After three years of continuous, collaborative writing paired with their individual years of work, St. Vincent and David Byrne better bring it.

David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant tracklist:

  1. “Who”
  2. “Weekend in the Dust”
  3. “Dinner for Two”
  4. “Ice Age”
  5. “I Am an Ape”
  6. “The Forest Awakes”
  7. “I Should Watch TV”
  8. “Lazarus”
  9. “Optimist”
  10. “Lightning”
  11. “The One Who Broke Your Heart” (ft. The Dap-Kings and Antibalas)
  12. “Outside of Space & Time”