One has to wonder if Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) felt a little in awe of David Byrne, if it was never in the plans for this record to be a 50/50 partnership, or if Byrne’s persona is simply so well defined at this point that it would overshadow most artists. In any case, the mixture here leans heavily on Byrne, which is certainly not a bad thing, but Love This Giant doesn’t take full advantage of Clark’s guitar prowess or hypnotic voice.
For Byrne, however, Love This Giant represents some of his best recent work. The skittish “Dinner For Two,” with its majestic opening horns and refusal to settle into something comfortable or still, possesses energy Byrne hasn’t displayed in a while. “Tanks outside the bedroom window/We’ll be fine with the curtains closed,” Byrne sings, his voice straining with barely contained frustration and passion. The Dap-Kings and Antibalas must have made for a crowded studio, but they give Byrne and Clark an ecstatic backing track that should be a centerpiece to a live show, a barnburner to bring down the house.
The simple and excellent “Lazarus” feels like more of a St. Vincent track, and when Byrne comes into the song, it provides a new depth and complexity. “Lazarus” is one of the few songs on Love This Giant that shifts dynamics to suit both voices, and the resultant combination is potent. Byrne finishes with the scathing lines, “You will not see my face come morning/I did not come to set you free.”
Hopefully Love This Giant is only the beginning of a partnership that should yield more potent results in the future. One wishes for Clark to let loose a little more, and allow Byrne to mold his galloping rhythms to her punchy guitar lines. With their combined talents, it’s only a matter of time before Clark and Byrne find a balance and deliver something incredible. (www.lovethisgiant.com)