David Byrne Chris Brazier - Essay

Chris Brazier

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

I fully expected to be floored … by Talking Heads' first album ["Talking Heads: 77"]…. Unfortunately, I haven't been. Trouble is, I don't know quite what the album does do for me.

Maybe I shouldn't have expected so much. For instance, "Psycho Killer, qu'est-ce que c'est" always seemed a fascinating song-title—I imagined some eerie midnight lurking classic—but, while this is okay, it does no justice to the potential of the idea, even incorporating the inevitably self-conscious use of French….

There's so much to praise, not least the quality of some of the songs. The single, "Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town," for example, is beautifully eccentric, simultaneously challenging and appealing…. On the other hand a couple of the pieces—"Who Is It?" and "Carefree" are dispensable, and the quirky stop-go style which pervades the album tends to push me away….

My uncertain reaction to the work is quite appropriate because indecision seems to be the key to Byrne's lyrics. In "Tentative Decisions" the world is so confused that all decision-making, even distinguishing between male and female characteristics, becomes impossible.

One way of escaping decision is to retreat into a cosy private universe ("Don't Worry About The Government," a dead ringer for early 10cc), another is to hand over power to a stronger figure ("Pulled Up"), but both are rightly ridiculed as inadequate here. But...

(The entire section is 550 words.)