Talk about a left turn.
For much of my life, I have enjoyed the artistic left turn. But I’ve also struggled with those bands that turn into more conventional music after making unconventional or pioneering music. I have more tolerance of it the older I get, but it’s still a struggle.
First, Talking Heads were one of the pioneering New Wave Bands. (They might be the pioneering American New Wave band.) Then, they reinvented their sound to create a unique version of Post Punk that sounded like basically nobody else. And then they made this.
This album is such a conventional pop rock album it’s shocking. It’s like a different band made it. Sure, there is percussion here and there, but the intricate rhythms are gone. As are the bonkers guitar solos by guests. And though there are still backing vocals, they are not the chants of earlier albums.
Instead, there is an accordion, and a little bit more steel guitar, and a fairly distinct change in genre even on the songs without those accoutrements. The album is relatively free of the intricate arrangements and overdubs that defined the band for so long.
And should all be a disappointment, right? They’ve regressed, made something conventional for the first time.
But the songs are pretty damn strong. (Two of them I knew already but didn’t realize they were Talking Heads songs because, you know, they don’t sound like Talking Heads songs.) The songs save the album given how conventional it is.
But also I think you do have to admire them for trying something different for them. Sure, it sounds like plenty of other bands in a way they never sounded before. But what else were they going to do at this point? Keep putting out the same record over and over again?