Forget about that first art-punk wave for a second. How many artists who were big in the early MTV era are still pushing themselves and their audiences. Is David Byrne the only one? It seems entirely possible! Next week, Byrne will release his new album American Utopia, which happens to be his first solo album since 2004’s Grown Backwards. And it’s fucking amazing.
Byrne, of course, has not been silent since 2004. In that time, he’s released collaborative albums with people like Brian Eno, Fatboy Slim, and St. Vincent. He’s also written a book and curated a whole lot of art/music happenings. (He hasn’t stopped collaborating, either; American Utopia features contributions from people like Eno, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Doveman.) But for all the great work that Byrne has been doing lately, it’s still pretty shocking just how good American Utopia is.
American Utopia is an album full of pulsating beats and rich textures. You could also say that about any Talking Heads record, but the new album isn’t a throwback; it feels like it could only exist right now. And the best thing about it might be Byrne’s lyrics, head-blown musings about life. Your day will improve immensely when you hear Byrne singing about “the diiiick of a donkey.” We’ve posted the early tracks “Everybody’s Coming To My House” and “This Is That,” and now you can stream the entire album at NPR.