I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when it was announced that David Byrne and St Vincent were working together, but a smart, swaggering and downright joyous collection of wonky pop tunes (and I don’t mean that in a Hoosiers kind of way – let us never speak of them again) was not it. It may not have the beautiful harmonies of ‘The Lion’s Roar‘, the perfectly balanced textures of ‘Tramp‘ or the raw emotion of ‘The Lovers‘, but it has balls. Enormous ones. Big, brassy ones. You can only begin to imagine the grins on the faces of Byrne and Annie Clark when some of these songs were played back in the studio.
From the first sight of the double-take artwork, to the final note of ‘Outside Of Space and Time‘, it is clear you are in the presence of something special. Whether it’s the simple charms of the vocal melody on ‘I Am An Ape’ or the unexpectedly perfect way in which Clark’s vocal blends with Byrne’s unmistakeable yelp, there are plenty of slack-jawed, repeat-play moments to be found. The two have said that ‘Love This Giant’ ended up sounding completely different to what they had anticipated themselves and any sense of arty pretension soon evaporates.
The plentiful use of deft horn stabs lends a certain vintage quality to a lot of these tunes, as swirling programmed drums rise and fall around these two distinctive voices. ‘The Forest Awakes‘ skips along, driven by Clark’s breathy vocal to be followed the clamourous racket of ‘I Should Watch TV‘, with Byrne’s excitable yelp at the fore. But this album is at its best when the two fully intertwine, as on ‘Lazarus‘ with its irresistlable swagger. It is this pure pop momentum that so many of this songs possess that makes it quite such fine release. It’s peculiar, hard to define, tricky to describe and even difficult to look at. It is wilfully awkward, cheerily playful and unlike anything either of them have previously created. And for all of these reasons and more Love This Giant‘ stands tall as an incomparable record and one which has held its own in a very strong year for new music. It has, however, split opinion amongst people who judgement I trust and so, out of all thirty of the recommendations in this list, this is perhaps the one most needing of trial listen before stumping up your hard earned. I’d love to know your thoughts.