Talking Heads
Fear of Music


5.0
classic

Review

by Jared H. (perosn) USER (25 Reviews)
July 15th, 2016 | 53 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; this makes him sounds like a mental patient. 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”



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user ratings (632)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
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Chris Jackson (3.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


19972 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: Tom Waits - Franks Wild Years

Ryus
July 15th 2016


13204 Comments


nice dig

Digging: Future - FUTURE

Ocean of Noise
July 15th 2016


8205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

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

Good review, though.

Digging: Carbon Based Lifeforms - Hydroponic Garden

sonictheplumber
July 15th 2016


8203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

gr8

ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


19972 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

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



Also a 5.

AngryLittleAlchemist
July 15th 2016


9245 Comments


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

Your welcome haha.

I'll read this and see if there's any problems, being the huge talking heads fan i am.

TVC15
July 15th 2016


6664 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: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

AngryLittleAlchemist
July 15th 2016


9245 Comments


"Talking Heads’ first two albums were stimulating and personality filled post punk/funk albums. "

This reads really awkward with the personality part just thrown in. I would say something like "Talking Heads' first two albums were post punk albums, filled to the brim with personality and stimulating funk sensibilities." Steal that if you want but you could probably make a better sentence, that's just an example, but do what you want.


"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 :

"The Bands story is almost as old as the band themselves". Deleted that line man no offense.

It's even less unnecessary because you already state that there is an ironic song on here. Generally if you have to choose between loosely hinting at an idea and then restating it just a sentence later with more detail, or just referencing the idea with great detail once, you want to do the latter.

"but the character wishes they would. "

Wish Is what you meant I think?

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

I would change this. As it is it reads awkwardly because you say "with *that* said". All you have do to is turn the first sentence around and you don't have to contradict(or oppose I guess) your previous statement. Say "Musically, most of the songs are slow and brooding rather then explosive. However, there are a few exceptions, such as "Cities", arguably the most frantic song in the Talking Heads' entire catalog". Or something like that.

Otherwise great review. Keep in mind I'm nitpicking a lot up there. POS hard!

TVC15
July 15th 2016


6664 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


19972 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.

AngryLittleAlchemist
July 15th 2016


9245 Comments


"What? I never even wrote this in the review."

I was saying it's almost as bad as my line. That's the line I wrote for my Bends review lol, it's pretty shitty huh?

AngryLittleAlchemist
July 15th 2016


9245 Comments


What the hell is up with that random neg. Someones holding a grudge for AMSP lol

TVC15
July 15th 2016


6664 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


19972 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ask Fripp, he'd probably know every example

TVC15
July 15th 2016


6664 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fripper or the man himself, Ars?

ArsMoriendi
July 15th 2016


19972 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Both honestly, but I meant user Frippertronics

SandwichBubble
July 15th 2016


1413 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

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: Mark Fry - Dreaming With Alice

laughingman22
July 15th 2016


2735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

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



I'm offended

AngryLittleAlchemist
July 15th 2016


9245 Comments


Well he has the album 5'd Laughingman it's safe to say he probably loves that track too

theBoneyKing
July 15th 2016


7354 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: Jens Lekman - Life Will See You Now



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