Things seem to be changing for Black Midi. The UK band generated a whole lot of buzz in spite of but also partly because of having so little music available; word of mouth drove their rise, spreading news of their incendiary and shape-shifting live shows. Naturally, that kind of thing probably has to remain a specific chapter in a band’s career if they’re going anywhere, and Black Midi definitely seem to be going someplace. After their enigmatic origins, the recent Band To Watch has taken 2019 by storm, releasing “Speedway,” then “Crow’s Perch,” and blazing through an enviable SXSW in the meantime. Now, they’re back with another new track called “Talking Heads.”
Black Midi tend to name songs by sonic signifiers more so than thematic relevance — their debut single “BmBmBm” got its moniker from their producer referring to it as “the one that goes ‘boom boom boom.'” So, on some level it comes as no surprise that they’ve returned with a single called “Talking Heads,” given that their nervy and diverse approach to rhythm often recalls the iconic art-rock outfit. “We’ve always tried to make it heavy but danceable, melodic but good rhythms,” frontman Geordie Greep says of the song, echoing the Talking Heads DNA present in Black Midi’s work. “It is accessible music, there are experimental aspects that we’ve taken from when we went crazy at the beginning, we’ve just reined it in to make something that is pop music.”
Fittingly enough, you can hear David Byrne & Co. in this one about as much as you could in “Speedway.” “Talking Heads” opens with the kind of perfectly tense rhythm that openly nods to Black Midi’s forebears: constricted but hyperactive drums and bright, sputtering guitars. But if anything is clear about Black Midi so far, it’s that you never know exactly where their songs might venture. “Talking Heads” soon departs from whatever template it seemed to exist within, becoming looser and buggier as it continues, Greep going into that wide-eyed yelp mode as the instrumentation intensifies along the way. If you were already attracted to the bizarre and idiosyncratic world Black Midi are presenting, you’ll want to hear “Talking Heads,” too. Check it out below.
“Talking Heads” will be released as a double A-side 12″ with “Crow’s Perch” next month via Rough Trade.