Faster Louder JANUARY 25, 2009 - by Brenden Boyce


The genesis of David Byrne and Brian Eno's latest release, their first for nearly thirty years is fascinating and more than just a little illuminating. Their only previous full-length collaboration, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, was a landmark electronic release that managed to synthesise both artist's love of the world music and challenging soundscapes into a whole that was more listenable than the original blueprint suggested. This time around that release holds no relevance and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is a pop album bubbling with electronic touches and acoustic swirls that are noticeably informed by structured (and simplistic) song writing and gospel overtones. It's very much an album that sees David Byrne, a master of satire and cryptic social commentary employing an optimistic filter that becomes a positive backlash to the adultery of truth disseminated during the Bush era.

According to the overflowing chasm of information that is the internet Eno had spent eight years pushing around musical ideas and blueprints of songs waiting for someone to come along and write lyrics as he 'hates writing words'. Along came David Byrne ready to contribute the words required and in turn develop the spare sonic adventures Eno had laid down. Lyrically David Byrne saw the project as an opportunity to develop ostensibly positive lyrics against a background of easy to digest pop tunes. He succeeds quite dramatically in this endeavour, invoking affronting images such as car crashes in Everything That Happens in order to reach a calming epiphany about the beauty of mere existence. Strange Overtones takes one of the more subtle backing tracks of the album to bring about a sense of appreciation for the loneliness that drives a satiating life. The dichotomy inherent in Byrne's mixing of destructive or calamitous images with sentiments of positivity and hope reaches a head in One Fine Day in which Byrne's passionate singing and delectable hook lifts the listener to an appreciation of struggle and in turn a comfortable place. He spoke of wanting to avoid corniness, and this he does not just through engaging lyrical content but through his surprisingly awesome vocals. They're constantly more melodious than the majority of his work that's come before but he's not scared to let his voice soar above the eclectic mix behind him, powered by the importance of his words.

It goes without saying that a description like this may belie the depth of aural insight given to the musical backdrop by Eno. At times it resembles his recent work with Paul Simon on Surprise but in general the album shies away from the ambient work he is so renowned for. In fact, on occasion the music drifts into a less confronting, modern update of Here Come The Warm Jets sans the rhythmic jarring, difficult chord progressions and aural experimentation. The album is perfectly populated with synthesised washes, drifting beats and smatterings of genuine rock instrumentation (including gorgeous acoustic folk guitar) that somehow turn 'electronic gospel' into something warmer, something inherently human.

This is a beautiful release that places itself as a watershed of our times. In an era in which we hope to move on through depressive economic downturns and a recent history of abusive western influence we can turn to two men who so often challenged the worth of optimism in the past to see that acceptance and hope for the future is justified, even in our world.