It’s nice to know every now and then, classic artists can to churn out more than greatest hits compilations and album re-issues. It’s even better when these seminal musicians create something that lives up to their iconic status.
David Byrne and Brian Eno accomplished this giant task once before with their groundbreaking 1981 collaboration “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts,” and thankfully lightning has struck twice with “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.”
Former Talking Heads frontman Byrne has certainly surpassed his old band in terms of output, but as is typical in solo acts, the quality has varied over the years. The same can be said of the avant-garde creations of Eno, whose famed production work with the likes of U2 and Coldplay receive far more casual acclaim than his own musical ventures.
Together, however, the duo steamroll over these shortcomings by sticking to their respective strengths, which only helped mold “Everything” into a self-styled album all its own. To quote Byrne, this mishmash of talent can only be classified as “folk-electronic-gospel,” a music bin which record stores more than likely won’t be adopting anytime soon.
In spite of its genre-bending roots, “Everything” is a progressive and oddly lulling album. While Byrne’s distinctive voice remains, gone are the punkish and rapid-fire beats Talking Heads was so renowned for. In their place is a more mellowed, almost experienced sound, a trait the record frankly owes more to Eno than Byrne.
This is to be expected considering the two legends’ approach to the recording. Rather than a traditional collaboration, Eno instead took the helm and independently wrote the disc’s songs, while Byrne followed through by tacking on his own vocals and lyrics.
This dualistic method bizarrely allowed Byrne some artistic freedom, as the singer explores some new and interesting views lyrically.
In fact, the opener “Home” describes the rather twisted reality of longing for a place to settle down regardless of “neighbors fighting” and “cameras watching.” The song’s warped themes are accentuated even further by heavy and otherworldly synth pitches, which are fortunately balanced out by a backing drum ensemble.
Most of the tracks in “Everything” attain this fluid harmony, with “Life is Long” and the album’s sole single “Strange Overtones” especially exemplifying this simple musical philosophy.
Still, a few awkward tunes manage to slip through, such as the willowy and occasionally spoken word song “I Feel My Stuff.”
But despite the sporadic misstep, Byrne and Eno have put forth a welcome effort that is 27 years overdue. The only issue that remains is actually obtaining “Everything,” since the album is currently unavailable in traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
Instead, the reunited pair decided to pull a Radiohead and self-publish their latest via the Internet on Aug. 18, leaving the physicalities of a CD for an undetermined October release.
Adventurous music fans can listen to the entirety of the album for free at www.everythingthathappens.com, and those willing to pony up a few bucks can also purchase it on the site in a variety of formats.
While textually novel and eerily subtle, “Everything” is still an arty work that won’t necessarily appeal to the mass market. The album doesn’t focus on catchy hooks and repetitive lyrics, making it a piece that calls for thoughtful contemplation rather than simple headbanging. But those willing to expand their musical horizons to a more eclectic beat will find much to love in a couple of veteran visionaries.