Look Into The Eyeball
“Who hip hop, who be bop? Who saves you, who shakes you?/It’s the great intoxication of the mental generation/Who’s still working on his masterpiece?/Look into the eyeball of your boyfriend.”
Possibly an autobiographical lyric or an ode to musicians from David Byrne’s new song “The Great Intoxication.”
A lot can and has been said about David Byrne. He’s a prolific and creative musician. As singer and major songwriter for seminal band the Talking Heads, he helped make a permanent mark on the rock scene and their sound and songs continue to influence countless bands today.
He has put out a few solo albums, most of which are critically, but not commercially successful, but perhaps one of the greatest things Byrne has done is create the label Luaka Bop, which has released a culturally diverse palate of interesting music that may not have otherwise reached many ears.
The label recently re-released an amazing album from the ’70s by Shuggie Otis called Inspiration Information that’s a sweet, sexy blend of psychedelia and soul.
Byrne, as creative and clever as ever, takes some inspiration information from Shuggy on his latest release, Look Into The Eye Ball. He’s taken his time on this one, it’s been four years since his last release, and the effort is apparent. The disc hits with the sweet groovers, a la Shuggie, and misses with some sonic and lyrical experiments. After a few attentive listens, (this is crucial for all Byrne), this is good classic Byrne: quirky, intelligent and thought provoking. It definitely grows on you.
Some cuts, like the album’s opener “U.B. Jesus” and “The Great Intoxication” move along with a classic Byrne ethnic-flavored (Brazilian) pulse, not in a hurry to go anywhere, but offering a groovy, albeit not traditional, platform for great lyrics. Some songs seem tepid at first but after repeated listens get hotter.
I can’t decide on even a few lines to quote, they’re all so interesting and quotable. I could, and would indeed like to quote lyric after lyric, they’re that damn good.
Other tunes: “Like Humans Do,” “Neighborhood” and “Walk On Water” break out in smooth, funky grooves, worthy of an ass shake or at least a finger snap while a couple more thump-like club tracks, without being club tracks; like “Desconocido Soy” a duet with NRU from Caf퀌� Tacuba.
Aside from the poppy finger snappers, Eyeball isn’t ear candy, or even fully pleasurable on the first listen. In fact, most of the music wouldn’t work alone without lyrics. It’s a vehicle that runs smoothly most of the time.
Byrne is good at his thing. He’s creative. He’s not stuck in old ways that keep many artists his age from creating fresh material. If you like Byrne, or most of the Talking heads catalogue, you should check out Eyeball.Roseland Theater will also be hosting Byrne at a 21-and-over show Tuesday, May 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22.50 through Fastixx.