David Byrne calls up on Brian Eno, Oneohtrix Point Never, Jam City, Happa and Sampha to help realise his vision of an American Utopia...
Despite having been putting out records for (by our count) 41 years now, it's impressive that David Byrne can still put together an album as enjoyable as American Utopia is in its best moments. As expected, the spirits of his rarely bettered records as part of Talking Heads and the pinnacle of his musical career, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts are seen and not seen in places here. The overall sound and feel of American Utopia is one of David Byrne in his best form both vocally, lyrically, and musically for as far back as we go with checking each one of his latest releases.
The carrot pull of guest spots from some of Warp's finest behind the controls: Oneohtrix Point Never & Brian Eno alongside previous Bleep Green Series techno youngster Happa, Night Slug's pop/bass don Jam City & the 2017 Mercury Prize winner Sampha is sure to make American Utopia a check for many who may normally choose to skirt around the edges of a new David Byrne LP. Yet the inclusion of these artists does much to compliment his musical vision, showing that despite after years of creating music, in 2018 Byrne can still fit in nicely with producers whose music ranges from underground techno bangers to avant-garde film soundtracks, without ever losing any of his funky, yet soulful delivery and pop grace.
While comparisons are sure to be drawn with the other NYC king James Murphy's indie music idea of what constitutes the American Dream, David Byrne's American Utopia is a much more enjoyable world to inhabit. While it may not offer any answers to the world's problems, pop music's role isn't really to do such things. American Utopia does exactly as its title suggests, offering an escape from the everyday cycle of 24-hour news real atrocities and paints an alternate, dreamt up America. One for which, David Byrne sits in the middle of conducting his take on what makes a pretty perfect soundtrack to this imagined paradise.