Collaborations between yesterday’s innovators and today’s eclectics can sometimes be a recipe for disaster – two extreme styles battling to be the best, or the loudest heard. Not here. St Vincent and David Byrne are a match made in heaven.
The story goes that the two met after a bunch of charity dos which saw collaborations set up for shows – Dirty Projectors and Bjork led the gang. The idea of a duo between St Vincent’s Annie Clark and Byrne soon developed into Love This Giant, an album so weird and wonderful, but full of great songwriting and hooks, that it could be one of the albums of the year.
The songwriting is great, from opener and single ‘Who’ to the dreamier ‘Lazurus’, but what casts this special debut into a whole new realm are the arrangements…mainly brass, played by the cream of the horn crop the Dap Kings and Antbalas.
It’s as far as a battle of creatives as you could get. Some songs are duos, some solos, but all have the brass blood running through them, making this a full album of rich pickings instead of just a collection of songs thrown together by big names.
Never before has a brass band played such a starring role from something emerging from the New York art scene! By no means is Love This Giant up its own arty backside. It’s catchy, dance-able, singalong-able and a a great pop record.
‘Weekend in the Dust’, with it’s booming duo sax baseline and minimalist, funk vocals, is pure fun; ‘I Should Watch TV’ fuses bouncy beats with intricate swirling brass and Byrne’s layered vocal shown off to its best; and ‘The Forest Awakes’ showcases Clark’s sweet voice, again accompanied by a landscape of horns and ending with a clattering electric guitar.
Every track is superb and individual, with ‘I Am An Ape’ being a particular highlight. It’s comical, theatrical, with a twinge of darkness. It wouldn’t sound out of place in a superhero movie.
Both Byrne and Clark are musical individuals, but here, they are a partnership. Love This Giant is unique, merging styles, genres, eras, ideas. It’s a fun and mesmerising listen. It’s not often you get to say that about collaborative musical art projects.
Words: Gemma Hampson