Album Review : David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant (4AD; 2012)

By Cathal Delea

Despite what Mark Ronson would have you believe, horns aren’t cool. No, horns and in particular the saxophone are the go-to sound of greasy men in 80’s suits and dirty mailmen in pornos, “Hey baby, I’ve got a big package for you.”

So when David Byrne of Talking Heads and Annie Clark AKA St. Vincent decided that on this collaboration they’d use the musical equivalent of your cousin Roy with the unhealthy interest in women’s shoes; prospects would appear to be decidedly bleak.

Mercifully though, Love this Giant is an absolutely gorgeous record from start to end. Album opener “Who” is far and away one of the most confident starts to a record in years, it’s bombastic and ballsy. Filled with more brass than an episode of Antiques Roadshow, it bumps and pivots for close to four minutes; unrestrained, unruly and all the time groovier than Austin Powers having sex with Disco Stu.

Byrne sounds well-dressed and dangerous throughout, and never more so than on “Dinner For Two”, “Harry’s gonna get some appetisers/Well, he’s staying out of range of small-arms fire”. Meanwhile Clark sounds as great as she ever does, ethereal and impenetrable and unforced.

Indeed one of the best things about this album is the ease with which it seems to flow. It’s never forced. New ideas seem to bleed in and be picked up almost instantly.

It may be that Byrne has the stronger influence over this record, his contribution to tracks like the aforementioned ‘Dinner for Two’ and others like ‘I Am an Ape’ and ‘I Should Watch TV’ showcase this, but this album finds its true grace in the influence of Annie Clark, her input ‘sweet as honey, tough as leather’

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and never overpowering. On album highlight ‘Lightning’ she displays best the sense of beauty and danger – like shattered glass – that make this album what is.

So, it didn’t look good in theory for Love This Giant but Byrne and Clark have done the unthinkable, they’ve made brass cool and an album that sounds fucking great. Buy or download it as soon as you can – prepare to love the giant.

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