Fear of Music
is the Talking Heads strange transition album. It’s a quirky mixture of their early jittery pop style and their odd experimentation that is later found on Remain in Light
. Like most bands that change their sound throughout their career Fear of Music
presents a lot of interesting and unique ideas yet they don’t all come together. This is the second Talking Heads album where Brian Eno takes over the production and you can immediately hear the difference once the first song starts playing. The Talking Heads haven’t completely ventured away from their pop roots yet it’s obvious that the band is starting to experiment with their sound.
Fear of Music
is a bit inconsistent at times but is possibly the Talking Heads most varied album. David Byrnes vocal style is the same as it has always been, he wails, shouts, and calmly whispers into the microphone with a great amount of energy. He sounds kind of paranoid and his voice is rather high pitched giving the music a very poppy and quirky feel. Byrnes vocals are particularly effective on tracks like Animals
where he sounds pissed off and aggravated to songs like Life During Wartime
as he calmly sings over the jazzy trumpet riffs. The most interesting aspect about Davids voice is how he can go from a high pitched wail to a compassionate growl; his voice adds an entertaining and unique aspect to the band.
There are so many different influences found on Fear of Music
it’s almost hard to keep track of them. Songs such as Cities
show how the band still have their ability to rock out as Byrnes guitar riffs and Tina Weymouths simple yet effective basslines create some catchy and upbeat pop tunes. If it weren’t for Jerry Harrisons subtle keyboard bleeps that manage to find their way into a majority of the songs most of the music would resemble the Talking Heads earlier works. Memories Can’t Wait
is another riff based rocker as the music echoes throughout creating a psychadelic atmosphere; Brian Eno definitely contributes on some of the more zany and creative tunes.
Fear of Music
would be a pretty basic rock album if it weren’t for some of the strange experiments that found their way onto the record. I Zimbra
mixes tribal beats, a funky guitar riff, looped keyboard effects and jibberish lyrics to construct a tune that sounds like an African disco song. Air
is a song that hints heavily towards electronica as its spooky keyboard notes invent an atmospheric and haunting vibe. The songs eerie chorus makes it sound like a tune that would belong on an old horror film. Electric Guitar
is possibly one of the oddest tracks off the album as it’s muted trumpet notes play softly over a bouncy guitar line. It doesn’t have much direction and Byrne trance inducing line ”Never Listen to the Electric Guitar”
will nearly put you in a trance. Even the albums closer, Drugs
is a trip as it’s slow and sluggish beat plays on while Eno’s mystical production takes over.
After listening to both Fear of Music
and Remain in Light
I’d say that they are both equally as inventive yet the latter shows more stable ideas. This album is a bit more inconsistent as songs can quickly shift from relaxed, guitar driven tunes to a mess of electronic effects and noise. While this isn’t exactly a bad thing it definitely shows that Fear of Music
is not the Talking Heads most accessible record. There are some pretty basic songs on here like the boppy jazz influenced Life During Wartime
or the basic rock tune, Mind
yet there is still a lot of spontaneity. All in all Fear of Music
is a very diverse record featuring many unique ideas that will reach out to many fans of rock, funk, or pop music.