Monday, June 28, 2010


The Great Curve – Talking Heads

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"Born Under Punches"

Sometimes I feel like Remain in Light is just a giant phallus, a monumental middle finger directed to the rest of Talking Heads' catalog. While it sounds distinctly like Talking Heads, it is clear from the very beginning that something extremely unique is going on. Bruce Springsteen is often quoted as having said that the first time he heard Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" the beginning snare crack was like someone "kicking in the door to his mind". The bubble drums and Byrne's pained cry that begin "Born Under Punches" similarly introduce us to a musical world, the separateness of which is so complete that it takes quite a while to realize what's going on. The track utilizes the listener's pop sensibility only to reorganize it to better enjoy the album. Each long repeated phrase ends with four snare hits, as if to move to a bridge or chorus, only to move right back into another of the same. Thus the group elliptically points our attention to the foundation of the record: the groove, in which it seems they have understood they can completely rely. In another sense, the solo, if you can call what quickly becomes 56K modem a solo, encompasses a magnificent comic sense, saying "this isn't what you expected, but its great right?"

"The Great Curve" in some ways is a much more conventional song. Vocally its a basic pop song, with sung verses and choruses, a bridge, and even a conventional (and amazing) guitar solo. But it took me a while to realize this, simply because anything added to the never ending groove, the skull shaking bass and the scattering African drums, compliments rather than changes it. At the point where Byrne sings "the world moves on a woman's hips", its not a surprise, but an extremely logical fulfillment of what is already going on.

Regardless of my stupid attempts to talk eloquently about this record, its just plain terrific. It however, must be listened to loudly, so turn up those speakers.

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