"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Time Out SEPTEMBER 4-10, 2008 - by Matthew Lurie
DAVID BYRNE & BRIAN ENO: EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS WILL HAPPEN TODAY
When My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts first appeared in 1981, David Byrne and Brian Eno were subversives - and revered ones at that. Byrne was the, well, talking head for his band of pop misfits, and Eno had released several provocative solo albums and produced Talking Heads, Devo and ambient forbears like Harold Budd. Each was cognisant of the pop hook and yet intent on undermining our assumptions about how to build it.
Twenty-seven years later, Eno is honorary fifth wheel to MOR flag-bearers (Coldplay, U2) while Byrne spends as much time constructing esoteric, if fascinating, art installations as making his increasingly non-threatening adult pop.
Accordingly, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, their second project as a collaborative duo, betrays the new cultural landscape these two now inhabit. It's an easy listen without quite being easy listening, yet still far from the claustrophobic, multicultural ambition that marked the era-defining Ghosts. Completed via file exchange over the Internet - Eno provides the backing tracks and Byrne provides vocal melodies and lyrics - this is a hopeful, warm and still wonderfully simpatico collaboration.
Eno may have become a sentimental sap over the past decade, but Byrne's wry observations and defiantly kooky voice give him the ideal counterweight. When Eno doles out a self-serious folk hymn, Byrne has an "angel fuck the whore" (My Big Nurse). And when Eno hands out the exquisite funk of Strange Overtones, Byrne responds with a delirious meta-lyric, a song-about-songwriting.
"I love talking funny," Byrne sings on Poor Boy. "It's the only song I know." And both we - and Eno - remain grateful for it.