I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when the collaboration between perpetually cool David Byrne and doe-eyed avant-pop upstart St. Vincent was hatched. If you aren’t familiar with Byrne, let me first waggle a disapproving finger at you, and then list his resume: “Once in a Lifetime,” Stop Making Sense, “Burning Down the House” and “Psycho Killer” to only skim the surface.
Since his seminal New York art-punk band Talking Heads split up, he has kept busy pushing pop music boundaries in an interesting, if somewhat uneven, solo career. In collaboration with musicians like Fatboy Slim, Byrne proves that once-vital artists don’t need to completely fade into middle-aged complacency. (I’m looking at you, Bono.)
So it made a certain kind of sense when Byrne collaborated with Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent). St. Vincent has made a name for herself blending cerebral, music school arrangements with Kate Bush-style cosmic energy and muscular, Afro-pop-tinged guitar playing (influenced in no small part by Byrne’s work with the Talking Heads). The duo produced Love This Giant in 2012: a collection of intricately arranged, horn-centric art rock, heavy on the kind of Afro-groove both artists are known for. The result is some of Byrne’s most interesting work in years; “I Should Watch TV” features his trademark awkward New York anxiety and social commentary: “I used to think that I should watch TV / I used to think that it was good for me / Wanted to know what folks were thinking / To understand the land I live in.”
David Byrne and St. Vincent bring their Love This Giant tour at 8 pm Wednesday, July 17, to The Cuthbert Amphitheater; $35 general admission, $55 reserved.