Experiments in sound coming from Talking Heads was never a surprise, but Fear Of Music takes an interest in forming new and engaging dissections of noise to toy with. Particularly on the opening track, “I Zimbra” where the worldly percussion and vocal chants are more of a fireside display.
As the vocals become an adaptation of poet Hugo Ball’s “Gadji Beri Bimba,” the Talking Heads are quick on their feet with motion and can articulate an eye-spotting first introduction.
Lyrically, the coalition of voices describes, “Gadji beri bimba glandridi, lauli lonni cadori gadjam. A bim beri glassala glandridi, E glassala tuffm i Zimbra.” While lyrically the track is almost impossible to decipher without the use of a Rosetta Stone; musically, the band is tighter than ever at this point.
Instrumentally crafty and absorbing of the attention span, Talking Heads completely switch gears from “I Zimbra” into “Mind” where the slowed delivery gives a reprieve for the audience.
Vocally, David Byrne is this shouting match within himself, almost as if he is staring directly into the mirror. Stating, “Time won’t change you, money won’t change you. I haven’t got the faintest idea, everything seems to be up in the air at this point.” As the chorus marches in and Byrne becomes more twisted in the performance, he continues on, “Drugs won’t change you, religion won’t change you… I need something to change your mind, I need something to change your mind.”
Alongside Byrne, there is Tina Weymouth on the bass and backing vocals. Nearby comes Jerry Harrison on the guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals which gives Chris Frantz on the percussion this wide lane to stand upon.
Later pieces especially like “Cities” are where Fear Of Music truly shows this immaculate range for adaptability for style and concept variety. The breakneck guitars and almost disco-styled percussion break moments of being new-wave without forming too hard around the synth outer shell.
Instead, the ability to dance comes through on “Cities” which ironically appears as the lyrics are more overwhelmed and desolate on the delivery. Byrne explains, “I’m checking ‘em out, I’m checking ‘em out. I got it figured out, I got it figured out. There’s good points, some bad points, But it all works out, though I’m a little freaked out.”
That paranoid writing frequently introduces itself within Talking Heads discography, and the framework of being a dance battle to immolation quickly attaches to why the band is so vital and ultimately capturing to watch. While Fear Of Music stacks on many hats of performance, Talking Heads remain solid through the record without losing a sense of clear direction.