A step away from the Brian Eno produced hands, the self-produced Speaking In Tongues gives way to some of the most iconic sounds of funk and dance undertones from the Talking Heads.
One of the most popular tracks ever pressed onto a digestible format, “Burning Down The House” opens Speaking In Tongues like fireworks in a studio apartment. Engulfing the entire mix with these staccato crunches of guitar and synth strings. The lyrics coming primarily from David Byrne illustrates, “Watch out, you might get what you’re after. Cool, babies, Strange but not a stranger. I’m an ordinary guy, burning down the house.”
Byrne who also covers the keyboards, guitars, bass, synthesizers, and percussion recruits Chris Frantz for the drums, synths, and backing vocals. There is also Jerry Harrison on keyboards, synths, guitars, and backing vocals who rounds out the mix with Tina Weymouth who is the primary bassist that supports on backing vocals, guitar, synths, and keyboards.
Much of the prowess that Talking Heads showcase is in their production rather than the actual means of sculpting these worlds. On the track, “Girlfriend Is Better,” there is this subconscious synth rhythm that is almost rattled with paranoia as the band plays along. The swarming synths are almost overpowering at one point while the vocals from Byrne reflect that paranoia.
He describes, “Down, down in the basement. We hear the sound of machines, I, I, I’m driving in circles, come to my senses sometimes.” As his internal screams grow louder and begin to drown out the idea of realization, Byrne shouts “Why, why, why, why start it over? Nothing was lost, everything’s free. I don’t care how impossible it seems.”
Alluding later to the tour name and forthcoming album, Byrne adds, “As we get older and stop making sense, you won’t find her waiting long. Stop making sense, stop making sense, stop making sense, making sense.”
On the final piece, “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” the simple melody becomes a point of almost intoxicating love where the entire mix is nearly unreflective of Speaking In Tongues. It becomes this harmonic simile, but the actual song is so much more approachable than the other pieces on the record. This lack of depth, however, only adds to Talking Heads’ style and emotional resonance through sound.
Whether cross-eyed and painless or lacking complete recourse for their actions, Speaking In Tongues is an excellent backdrop to being introduced to Talking Heads. The mixes are clean and ultimately, lead to some true love behind sound.