This album finds David Byrne literally whistling away in his own utopia while his home country goes to hell.

It's an odd stance to take, perhaps, but Byrne has always viewed life askew and here he mixes his fascination with the mundanity of life with big-picture philosophies like religion and politics.

When it works, as on the sublime Doing the Right Thing, he conjures a quirky genius. "She picks out some arts and crafts, I'm deep into the local cuisine," he sings over dreamy plucked strings and a shuffling rhythm before an arpeggiating beat kicks in.

But his restless experimentation can sometimes, well, not blow up in his face, but fizzle out unmemorably. The opener, I Dance Like This starts with a piano-hall riff before being interrupted by a clanging industrial-style chorus. It's jarring, presumably the point, but not effective nor particularly enjoyable.


The skittering beat and slight country twang of Gasoline and Dirty Sheets, which follows, is much more like it and sees him ruminating on politics and commercialism with lines such as, "She says that freedom costs too much," and "the money-back guarantee don't make my day."

Elsewhere, Every Day is a Miracle sees Byrne marvelling at the wonder of life while spouting peculiar lyrics like, "God is a very old rooster, and eggs are like Jesus, his son," over a chirpy afrobeat. it's satisfyingly, toe-tappingly strange, its infectious bouncy beat bound to put a skip in your step.

The experimental electronic drums that drive This is That tumble brilliant and unexpectedly, while the lively single Everybody's Coming to My House, is the closest he gets to his idiosyncratic Talking Heads' yelping delivery. Which obviously make it the album's highlight.


David Byrne


American Utopia


Warner Music


Pleasingly peculiar in places despite the odd dud.