Picks and Pans Review: David Byrne
The wildly unpredictable (and uneven) solo career of the former Talking Heads front man has forced loyalists to become either politely indulgent or maddeningly frustrated. Byrne has explored everything from Brazilian pop to an off-kilter interpretation of Dixieland jazz, yet his solo forays have never eclipsed what he created with the now-disbanded Heads. Until now. Playing with a noisy stripped-down rock quartet, Byrne has returned to the quirky, nervous energy of his early days. The funky, cacophonous "Angels" feels like "Once in a Lifetime" revisited, and the best track—"Back in the Box"—comes replete with a solid pop chorus.
Perhaps Byrne is settling his issues with the past in "A Long Time Ago": "It's not the ending of the world," he sings, "it's only the closing of a discotheque." Those nascent, Heady days may be over, but the ever-detached Byrne has given the faithful one more chance to wallow in a sentiment he and they probably hale: nostalgia. (Luaka Bop/Sire/Warner Bros.)