St. Vincent and the Business-side of “Birth In Reverse”

St. Vincent’s new single is out, and boy is it great. It fills me with optimism regarding the singer/songwriter/weirdo’s forthcoming album ST. VINCENT.  Even though this will be the singer’s fourth album, much fuss was made in the media regarding the fact that ST. VINCENT will be her first major label album.  Why is this a big deal? I personally don’t care what sort of label is releasing her album, but after I read a few news articles online I noticed that all of them went out of their way to mention that this new record would be her first on a major label.


None of these articles came out and said so, but what I inferred was that this new record is going to be St. Vincent’s first real album.  Like somehow being on a Universal imprint label (that’s right, folks, the album is going to be put out on a smaller record label owned by a conglomerate) legitimizes her as an artist.  Though can that really be the case?  Maybe I’m reading into this incorrectly…the only other thing I could think is that perhaps people view this as St. Vincent selling out.  Ugh, I hate the business side of the music business.

I don’t think that the freaky-lady who recorded one of the best albums of 2012 with David Byrne is only now a legitimate force in the music world because Universal is going to foot the bill to put out her next record.  I also don’t think anyone capable of releasing such a bizarre, interesting record with David Byrne is capable of selling out.

Anyway, St. Vincent’s new single “Birth in Reverse” is as funky and weird as one would hope from the lanky songstress.  That said, one definitely gets the sense that she’s learned a thing or two from hanging out with pop-freak Byrne.  “Birth in Reverse” maybe strange, but it’s also catchy and has a rad fuzzy-guitar riff.  Say what you will about The Talking Heads, but the band always put out catchy but off-kilter songs.  So, if Ms. Clark is going to take musical cues from David Byrne, I’ll forgive her for going to Christina Aguilera hairstylist.

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“Who” by David Byrne & St. Vincent

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I heard that David Byrne and St. Vincent had gotten together and made an album.  I just knew that I had to hear it.  A few months back I got on a Talking Heads-kick, so I was interested to find out if Byrne still had it.  And my it I mean: a propensity for the tasteful, the odd, and the tastefully-odd.

The Talking Heads were cultural anthropologists masquerading as a strange-sounding band.  It’s kind of a miracle to me that they were even popular in the 1980’s.  When I was revisiting their hits like “Burning Down The House,” “Wild Wild Life,” and the sublimely weird “Once In A Lifetime*,” I was struck by how un-pop The Talking Heads were. That they played on the radio along side Cyndi Lauper and Bruce Springsteen is utterly amazing to me.

Surely, I thought to myself before listening to “Who,” old-man Byrne has mellowed with age. Well fear not purveyors of all things freaky, David Byrne is still really strange.  I don’t really know much about St. Vincent except that she’s an indie-darling with a weird name who’s supposedly a really good guitar player.  Instead of being the chirpy song-bird I thought she was, I discovered that St. Vincent is more of a mysterious siren (color me curious about her solo-work).

Byrne and St. Vincent’s future so bright…they gotta wear shades.

The first song on LOVE THIS GIANT, “Who” is also the lead single.  It’s a daft and loopy number,  built almost entirely around horns and thumping drums (so much for St. Vincent’s guitar work).  Lyrically, “Who” is a series of semi-profound questions posed by Byrne, which is beautifully answered a single chorus from St. Vincent: “Who is an honest man?” It’s brilliant, catchy, auteur-pop that reminds me of fellow 80’s-freak Peter Gabriel’s solo-work.  LOVE THIS GIANT is a fantastic collaborative effort between the two artists, but “Who” is Bryne’s baby.  This one wormed it’s way into my heart, give it a listen and see if it doesn’t do the same to you.

Turns out Byrne still has it.  

*A song that I desperately need to analyze in a post all-to itself.

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