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Everything That Happens Will Happen Today: New But Not Novel

Martha Karam | Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Time has treated David Byrne and Brian Eno well. Over 25 years after their collaborative and experimental 1981 release “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts,” Byrne and Eno team up in a familiar sounding summer Internet release, “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.” Byrne and Eno’s latest collaboration sounds exactly how you would expect a Talking Heads and Brian Eno album to sound. Take Byrne’s vocals and soothingly sanctified lyrics and place them onto Eno’s distinctly warped electronic-rock sound and you get “Everything That Happens.” If you’re looking for an album that goes outside of what you expect from Eno and Byrne, “Everything That Happens” will not suffice. Most of the songs on the album are comparable in either lyrical mode or sauntering beat to any Talking Heads album you’ve heard. If you happen to be a big Talking Heads fan, this album is a lot like what you would expect from the band somewhere between “Remain in the Light” and “Speaking in Tongues.” Byrne’s vocals have changed little, if at all, for the better, becoming slightly less comical and irritating than his Talking Heads days. The tracks “I Feel My Stuff,” “Poor Boy,” and “Wanted For Life” carry the most obvious influence from Eno with their more synthesized sound and stick-out on the album as more current and accessible. The ironic single off the album, “Strange Overtones,” is a poppy song about a song. The concept of a song about songwriting seemed doomed. But despite its literal lyrics of “melting snowballs” and “hearing your feet in the apartment next door”, the song’s subject ties together the entire album’s idea of the transcendent pleasures of music over time and even Byrne’s personal beliefs. The second song off the album, My Big Nurse, is testament to that subject. As an ode to Byrne’s confidence in a high being, and the biblical references scattered throughout the entire album hints that Byrne’s higher being just might be God. The music on the album is contemporary, but the lyrics could easily be placed on an album over a half-century earlier and still be appreciated in a completely different context. The ability of the lyrics to match Eno’s instrumentation is why Byrne and Eno make a good team. The ability of the lyrics to be timeless as well as modern makes Byrne’s influence on the album more overtly memorable than Eno’s influence. It is also Byrne’s influence that makes the album sound more like a Talking Heads’ album than anything else. There is one difficulty in listening to this album. When a producer and his artist get together to make an album again, it’s a chore to avoid similarities and associations in sound to their previous work. If you are willing to accept that this album is not going to be a refreshingly novel sound check out “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.” The album manages to be unique from most music being released today, regardless of Byrne and Eno’s experience and practice in music for three decades.The full streaming album is available on the official site (http://www.everythingthathappens.com), but for the deluxe edition, which contains 5 extra tracks, you can now order a physical copy.