Rating: * * *
The former head suit of Talking Heads, David Byrne is heading back to New Zealand next month for a tour celebrating his work with producer Brian Eno.
Their collaborations date back to the early Heads albums and the influential 1991 pre-sample era, art-funk collage My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.
And now, after Eno became studio guru to the likes of U2 and Coldplay and Byrne springboarded from 80s pop success in Talking Heads to becoming a kooky rock elder statesman and multimedia guy, there's this long-awaited reunion.
Which makes them kind of late to their own revival. There's been a Heads/Byrne/Eno thread to everything from Arcade Fire to LCD Soundsystem to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and plenty of other young bands with anxious frontmen and overworked rhythm sections.
But if Byrne and Eno were sonic boffin adventurers in the past, here they aren't exactly returning to the afro-funk jungles of Bush of Ghosts or the wiry artpop of More Songs About Buildings and Food.
If anything, Everything That Happens ... recalls the sweeter, chart-friendlier and frankly forgettable days of post-Eno, latter-day Heads albums like Little Creatures.
Which means it rarely raises a sweat among its sweet tunes. It yodels occasionally on the more country-ish numbers, and it's a little self-conscious about embracing that joint past - on the clipped-funk of Strange Overtones Byrne accurately observes: 'This groove is out of fashion, these beats are 20 years old ...'
Which is a pity because Everything That Happens is best when the pair strive for that old sense of abandon, which they do all too rarely. It's best on the late arriving Poor Boy which neatly divides the difference between Bush of Ghosts and Heads funk epics like Life During Wartime. Likewise, I Feel My Stuff enchants as its dreamy trip-hop morphs into jagged electro-rock with Byrne in full yelp and Eno's old Roxy Music band-mate Phil Manzanera adding flame-thrower guitar.
Otherwise, the album's many gospel-tinged country-paced odes to domesticity like Home, The Lighthouse and Life is Long suggest Byrne as an arthouse Neil Diamond.
So it's amiable if unmemorable and its folksiness may come in handy should Byrne have a few minutes to fill on his next soundtrack for polygamy TV drama Big Love.