Review Summary: On their final studio album, Talking Heads take on old ideas, but don't execute them well enough to be enjoyed.
Talking Heads could be classed as band that is a classic example of a downward spiral. From a paranoid post punk outfit, David Byrne and Co. created an epic 3 part trilogy with Brian Eno at the controls (More Songs About Buildings and Food, Fear of Music, Remain in Light) and then it started to go slightly downhill. 'Speaking in Tongues' was good, with a fresh and funky attitude, but without Eno it seemed the band had lost their magic. Many will argue that follow up albums 'Little Creatures' and 'True Stories' were straight up pop rock, and left long-time fans wondering if the 'Heads had any innovation left.
And that brings us to 'Naked'. Arriving in 1988, by this point the band were basically just David Byrne, and on some of these songs, it seems that he has lost interest. Following two pop orientated records, 'Naked' is mostly a re-hash of the paranoid world-beat and funk of 'Remain in Light', but done to a poorer scale. There are more instruments here than 'Remain in Light', and it seems like the band were working on a wider scale, but the result is an album that is pretty sub-standard amongst other releases from the band.
Amongst these tracks however, stand a few highlights. 'Blind' is a catchy track with odd vocals and big horn sections to boot. The track has an almost jazz-pop style, and has just enough of the classic Talking Heads vibe to make it enjoyable. 'Totally Nude' is another ear-worm, with a typical funky sound and summery, bright guitars that can't help but bring a smile on the face. 'Nothing but Flowers' is a joy, addressing global issues and coming from a character who comments on the changes but is not necessarily in support of them; (Don't leave me stranded here, I can't get used to this lifestyle!). And 'Cool Water' is near unsettling, with a dark, trippy aesthetic and pained vocals, it is a track unlike anything Talking Heads achieved in their career.
Otherwise, the rest of 'Naked' is largely uninspiring. 'The Democratic Circus' is long and wandering, with little to engage the listener. 'Mommy Daddy You and I' is one of Byrne's weakest lyrically and while the rest is not offensively bad, it leaves a lot to be desired, especially for a band with such a strong discography.
As swansong go, 'Naked' is OK, but nothing more. Highlights are few and filler is many and considering the bands career being so impressive, 'Naked' feels slightly underwhelming, even though if you dig deep enough, there is gold to be found.