Lyrics Lush and Gawky

Via The New York Times

Lyrics Lush and Gawky
The New York Times
By Jon Pareles
8 April 2010

David Byrne can explain every historical allusion on “Here Lies Love” (Todo Mundo/Nonesuch), a two-CD song cycle about Imelda Marcos, the notoriously gaudy first lady of the Philippines. He does just that in the hard-bound 120-page book that’s part of the album’s most deluxe edition, along with a DVD of collaged news footage. Luckily, scholarship doesn’t eclipse the limber, catchy music and the sheer nuttiness of the whole project. It’s a rags-to-kleptocracy biography of Mrs. Marcos, and like “Evita,” another musical about a dictator’s wife, it plunges into its main character’s contradictory personalities: loving, calculating, traumatized, benevolent, heartless. They’re embodied in lead vocals by women including Tori Amos, Sharon Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Nellie McKay, Natalie Merchant, Santigold, Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) and a Filipino jazz singer, Charmaine Clamor. Abetted by Fatboy Slim, the music revisits 1970s and early-1980s styles, drawing on early, barely electronic disco (commemorating Ms. Marcos’s fondness for places like Studio 54) and the funk, Afro-Latin and Brazilian grooves of Mr. Byrne’s later Talking Heads albums. Though they’re tied to biographical specifics, the songs breeze along toward irrepressible pop choruses.

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