By the tail end of the late ’70s, real music lovers may have had enough of the snotty three-chord attitude of the punk movement. This reaction to the original punk backlash allowed artists like David Byrne’s Talking Heads to bring some overdue intelligence to the table. By joining up with Roxy Music alum and famed producer Brian Eno on “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today,” Byrne continues his pursuit of melodic intellectual rock, and somewhere along the way, he has created his strongest post-Heads release to date.
The last collaboration between these two respected musicians was 1981’s “My Life With The Bush Ghosts,” an ambient/electronica excursion that still stands as a classic. The pair has obviously matured since then, and the overall mood of “Everything That Happens” is very relaxed with a focus on the melody, similar to the offbeat work of XTC’s Andy Partridge. Throughout the CD’s 11 tracks, the duo concentrates on songs that Byrne describes as “electronic gospel.”
Fresh off of producing Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” Eno’s otherworldly stamp is all over the backing tracks of “Home,” the Peter Gabriel-like “I Feel My Stuff” and the percolating bass of “Wanted For Life.” The offbeat “My Big Nurse” brings out a comic country twang that would be unexpected from either artist if it weren’t for the experimental nature of many of their earlier projects.
The basic tracks on “Everything” were recorded at home by Byrne and e-mailed to Eno. After stripping down the rough demos, a host of musical friends stepped in to lend their talents to the songs, with the final product sounding cohesive and uplifting at the same time. Both artists can’t help but note the passage of time and trend since their moment in the spotlight, and the topic is addressed head-on in the tongue-in-cheek lyrics of “Strange Overtones,” the album’s beat-heavy first single: “This groove is out of fashion / These beats are twenty years old.”
A few tracks on “Everything That Happens” may fit into the mediocre category (“Poor Boy,” “Lighthouse”), but the songs certainly don’t end up in the junk bin. Even less-than-stellar Byrne/Eno compositions are still pretty good.
Rating: W W W 1/2