Talking Heads
Fear of Music


5.0
classic

Review

by Jared H. USER (25 Reviews)
July 15th, 2016 | 74 replies


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A post punk classic that helped define the upcoming decade of new wave.

Talking Heads’ first two albums were upbeat, anxiety filled post punk/funk albums. Both were very similar in that they had an immediate urgency to them –both musically and lyrically. David Byrne was paranoid and uptight about everything and he couldn’t wait to tell you all about it to the tune of a jittery guitar. Although there were slower, calmer songs here and there, the band seemed to be mainly focused on crafting high energy rock music. This all changed with the band's third album: Fear of Music. With the help of Brian Eno, who was also on their previous album, Fear of Music would be more aesthetically textured and lyrically poignant than then their previous work –paving the way for Remain in Light.

It's fairly ironic for an album filled with music to be titled Fear of Music. According to guitarist Jerry Harrison, he came up with the title because the band felt they were under a lot of pressure during the album’s sessions. Given the tone of the various songs on the album, this is fairly evident –especially the anthem of ironically fearing music: ”Electric Guitar.” “Electric Guitar” addresses censorship and media and how both can affect how people think. Lyrically, the sardonic and haunting “Heaven” surmises that “Heaven is a place nothing ever happens” while the dryly delivered “Mind” points out how no institution can change a person’s mind, but the character wishes they would. He even takes it further on “Animals,” where Byrne creates a character that fears that animals want to change his life and are laughing at him. The paranoia here clearly lies in the mistrust of institutions and ideas that are normally trusted by the public, rather than Talking Heads' previous themes of social anxiety. Byrne’s characters have changed from being socially awkward spasmodics to conspiracy theorists.

Musically, some of the songs are still erratic in a similar manner to their previous output, but most of the tracks slowly brood rather than burst out. With that said, the track “Cities” is arguably the most frantic thing Talking Heads ever wrote. Not only does it start with the sound of sirens, but the lyrics literally mention that he’s “a little freaked out.” Other songs, such as “Drugs” and the aforementioned “Heaven,” seem to really stretch themselves out for the sake of creating a cold baron vibe –which is done spotlessly. The opener, “I Zimbra,” is especially unique for the album due to it’s gibberish lyrics and African rhythm. Both cold spacey atmosphere and African influence would be a huge part of Remain in Light’s sound, though it would not leave the franticness behind either. These ideas make Fear of Music feel like the archetypal transitional album, which gives it such a strong feeling of experimentalism. At the same time, this gives the album a poppier texture, arguably making Fear of Music their first new wave album.

Talking Heads dabbled with new concepts and new sounds, without throwing out their old ones, causing Fear of Music to feel like a mixed bag. This is not say that it feels like a compilation, since it also manages to be cohesive in theme as well as seamless in flow. There are no bad tracks or bad ideas present, only unique and thrilling post punk that helped define the upcoming decade of music.

Album Highlights: “I Zimbra”, “Cities”, “Heaven”, “Electric Guitar”



Recent reviews by this author
Doprah WastingBrainiac Bonsai Superstar
The Mothers of Invention Freak Out!Minnie Riperton Perfect Angel
Radiohead A Moon Shaped PoolCocteau Twins Treasure
user ratings (677)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Chris Jackson (3.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


21489 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The other review for this kind of sucks, so I wrote this... :P



Hope it doesn't also suck.



Will make edits to this if there's any constructive criticism.

Digging: Wilco - Summerteeth

Ryus
July 15th 2016


15120 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice dig

Digging: Fredo Santana - Fredo Kruger 2

Ocean of Noise
July 15th 2016


9683 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If this is a 5, what's Remain in Light???

Good review, though.

Digging: Therion - Vovin

sonictheplumber
July 15th 2016


8474 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

gr8

ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


21489 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"If this is a 5, what's Remain in Light???"



Also a 5.

TVC15
July 15th 2016


8439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Almost as good as Remain in Light... but RIL has more afrobeat influences and I love the versions of the songs from Stop Making Sense more



Edit: I gave you a pos

Digging: Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Luciferian Towers

TVC15
July 15th 2016


8439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

With the said, the track “Cities” is arguably the most frantic thing Talking Heads ever wrote.




Should the word be "that" instead?



Probably the only grammar mistake I can nitpick. I feel like the review focuses more on the context of the album than the album itself. You do pick apart individual songs but I sort of feel you don't dive into the theme of the album more than you could've

ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


21489 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"The Bands story is almost as old as the band themselves"



What? I never even wrote this in the review.



Good criticisms otherwise, will edit.

TVC15
July 15th 2016


8439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Did Eno make/produce more albums like this, Remain in Light, and Lodger, or hell even Coldplay's Viva La Vida?

ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


21489 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ask Fripp, he'd probably know every example

TVC15
July 15th 2016


8439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fripper or the man himself, Ars?

ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


21489 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Both honestly, but I meant user Frippertronics

SandwichBubble
July 15th 2016


3734 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this album, have some qualms:



1. “'...Mind' points out how no institution can change a person’s mind, but the character wish they would." The section after the comma reads a bit awkwardly. 'Wishes,' maybe.



2. "He even takes it further on “Animals” when Byrne creates a character that..." Should be a comma after 'Animals' and change 'when' to 'where.'



3. "How ironic is it for an album filled with music to be titled Fear of Music?" this line is honestly terrible and almost as bad as my line on The Bends review [2]



4. You keep alluding to the fact the songs have 'characters.' I don't have a fix or anything, it's just weird to me.



Other than that, p good review.



Digging: Butts - Butts

laughingman22
July 15th 2016


2765 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

not putting 'Drugs' as one of the album's highlights



I'm offended

theBoneyKing
July 15th 2016


11747 Comments


This is pretty well-written, though it kind of feels like a summary more so than a review at times, and you don't really convey why it's a 5. For all I can tell this could be a 4.

That aside (and I feel like I've said this a thousand times) this is a band I really need to properly get into. I have a dl of this album but have never heard it in full. "I Zimbra" rules though.

Digging: The National - Sleep Well Beast

ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


21489 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Made some edits



and the album does have characters. It's not like David Byrne actually believes animals are out to get him...

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
July 15th 2016


13570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

To answer the question about Eno, listen to his collaboration with David Byrne, "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts", which came about a few months after Remain in Light, but parts of it were being done since 1979. It's an early example of sample-based music, and lots of the rhythmic elements in Remain in Light are present on Ghosts. The original version had the controversial track "Qu'ran", which is not available on any official release after the original pressing as far as I know, so going with the vinyl version or finding a rip is the only way to get that song.



Also, listen to Eno's Before and After Science, which is essentially his final song-based album until 2005's Another Day on Earth. He even made a song called "King's Lead Hat", which is an anagram of Talking Heads, who were his favorite band at the time (and also one of the many bands he produced, Remain in Light being the last he did with the band).

Digging: Doof's Mom - Genuinely Memorable Cover Art

ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


21489 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Checking King's Lead Hat out of curiosity haha

wtferrothorn
Contributing Reviewer
July 15th 2016


5733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a pretty nice album, though I personally can't see how this could be considered better than RiL. In fact, I think I like Building and Food is better than this.



I like to imagine there isn't a deeper meaning to "Animals" and Byrne really believes dogs are out to get us. Makes the song much more entertaining for me.

ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


21489 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

lmao



Also nice dig, Swiss Army Man was an amazing movie



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy