Tag Archives: Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: The Arcade Fire, “The Suburbs”

It’s no great revelation that the American suburb, that realm of domesticity created by the white flight of the 1950s and 60s, can be a dehumanizing place filled with tedium and pain behind a facade of a happy middle-class lifestyle. In fact, the topic has been something of a pet point of reflection in pop culture for couple decades at least, from Mad Men to Revolutionary Road to The Ice Storm and American Beauty.

And so it’s inevitable that some commentators will scoff at The Arcade Fire’s third full-length album, The Suburbs, for treading well-worn ground. But pop music, for the most part, has never been about the necessity of the high concept, has it? It’s not like the love song or the breakup song or songs about war being bad are going away any time soon. These songs are all about feelings. And The Suburbs is possibly the best example of an album really capturing a feeling since The Arcade Fire’s debut, Funeral.

What’s really amazing about the Arcade Fire’s three albums is how much of a piece they feel, like each one is a different novel in a series or season in a serialized TV show like “The Wire.” They even seem to follow the same characters around as they move through the ends of their childhood (Funeral), the  anger over empty culture and political corruption that comes with college and early adulthood (Neon Bible), and now the crushing boredom and ennui that comes with having settled down and learned to “quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock” as Regine Chassagne so beautifully sings in “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).”

Maybe the first thing any of us learn in a playwriting class or a fiction-writing course is never to make your characters bored, since bored characters generally lead to a bored audience. But The Arcade Fire figures out how to thread the needle here. These songs about suburbanites who start “wars” over music just to feel something and have something to do are drenched with nostalgia. Every song on this album feels instantly familiar, not so much in that they’re derivative, but just because they feel like something a teenage older brother might have pumped out of his  truck’s tape deck as he cruised around the culdesac, albeit with a lot more orchestration. And given that your older brother was into Red Rider and Bruce Springsteen rather than Megadeth and Metallica.

Some of the songs on “The Suburbs” are shockingly catchy — I find myself humming “Rococo” and “City With No Children” on the reg — despite the fact that their lyrics are about as sad as they can be (it’s the old sad-lyrics-happy-music formula perfected on The Clash’s “Train in Vain” all those years ago). And the songs you don’t find yourself humming you won’t help but find beautiful. It’s as enjoyable an experience you can have hearing someone’s regrets about lost time and lost youth.

You think: It’ll probably be the album of the year.

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: Pitchfork Festival Retrospecticus

This week, since there weren’t really any albums coming out I felt compelled to review (none I could stream, anyway), I figured I’d take a look back at the shows I saw weekend before last at the Pitchfork Music Festival here in my newly adopted home city of Chicago.


The first set I saw on the sweltering first day of the festival, fresh from ditching work a couple hours early, was former Def Jux label head El-P, who started out a little rough — the first song, “Smithereens (Stop Crying)” was fuzzy from sound problems that plagued the festival all weekend.

My great view of the artist the guy behind me called “ELP.”

El Producto recovered nicely, however, when he went into probably the best song from his solo debut Fantastic Damage, “Deep Space 9mm.” The crowd really got more involved at that point and the show took off from there, even weathering an extended instrumental jam where El-P worked a drum machine (it was pretty awesome, in fact).

Up next were dance-punk-noise rockers Liars, who seemed to be aiming to live up to the “noise” portion of their genre more than any other. They were screechy and headache-inducing, so I headed over to the comedy stage to sit under some shade and catch a bit of Hannibal Buress‘ set. Like all the comedians who performed Friday — the only day, thankfully, Pitchfork opted to have a comedy stage — Buress had to compete with the loud band on the other side of the park, but he made the best of it, telling jokes about his Brooklyn neighborhood and the handlebar-mustachioed dudes that live there.

I left Buress’ set early to catch Robyn‘s 50 minutes or so of jamming on stage A, and it was pure, fun dance-pop bliss from the get-go.

My less-great view of a great singer who opted to wear leather shoulder pads in 95 degree heat.

From her opening song, “Fembot” (a song I am now in love with), Robyn had the audience eating right out of her hand. She blew through a string of hits and had an seemingly infinite supply of energy, despite the heat and her insistence that she had just gotten off the plane from Sweden. She closed “Dancing on My Own,” the first single off her new album Body Talk Pt. 1, with the classic “making out with myself” gag.

Back across the park, Michael Showalter, a comedian I will always love dearly because of his involvement in “The State” and “Stella,” was bombing miserably. I came over to the stage about 15 minutes into his disastrous set, just as he was finishing up some ill-advised DJing and launching into vanilla jokes about soccer. Right around the time someone in the audience suggested he do Doug from “The State” it was totally clear the show was off the rails and he pulled the plug on it. Even so, he got in some jokes that made me laugh, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Because Showalter’s set was voluntarily cut short, I got to catch the tail end of Broken Social Scene’s set, which was impressive as always. I didn’t much care for their last record, but they still put on a damn good show.

Modest Mouse closed out the night with a setlist full of deep cuts that appealed (mostly) to the Pitchfork audience. They played “Dramamine,” “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,” and “Gravity Rides Everything,” but only one song from their most recent album (guitarist Johnny Marr was nowhere to be found, by the way) and no “Float On” whatsoever. Most of the crowd didn’t seem to care, but one girl behind me did shout, “Just play the damn song so I can go home!”

Issac Brock seemed pretty surly, as if that’s any surprise. The only real stage banter was a silly story about biting into a glow stick. The playing was sloppy at times, but it was ultimately a satisfying show for people who prefer the band’s rough edges. And I do.


Pitchfork’s second day was seemingly hotter than the first, so I opted to miss out on Free Energy’s 1 p.m. set and showed up instead just in time to see Raekwon take the stage a little after 4.

Not my Wu symbol, but I did throw a few up.

The sound problems that wounded El-P’s set nearly murdered Raekwon’s as the first 20 minutes or so simply consisted of the DJ trying to get his equipment to work right, yelling something to the crowd about whether they bought Enter the Wu-Tang, then going back to fiddling. Eventually The Chef was able to come out and do some Wu-Tang classic like “C.R.E.A.M.” and even “Triumph,” as well as some songs off of his newest, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, but sound mishaps seeped into a few songs, urging Raekwon to ask the crowd to raise their hands if “this is pissin’ you off. It’s pissin’ me off.”

The set rebounded right at the end, though, when Raekwon brought out a group of four kids who did breakdancing for the last three songs or so. Those kids were awesome, and they seemed to bring an energy to the stage that had been lacking somewhat. The finish was very strong.

Up next was The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I’ve never been a huge fan — I don’t hate them, I’ve just never paid them much attention. It sounded good enough.

Wolf Parade took the stage next, and the Montreal rockers kept things going nicely for their full near-hour set. They played lots of high-energy songs from all three of their albums (“Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts” from their debut sounds extra good live), trading off vocals between guitarist Dan Boeckner and keyboard player Spencer Krug, who really was hammering away on those keys. The only low point was their overlong closer, “Kissing the Beehive,” which is a great, epic album track but probably too much for a festival set.

Animal Collective member Panda Bear was up next, and his unfocused, meandering set was the snooze of the festival. I love Animal Collective’s records, and Panda Bear’s solo album wasn’t bad, but they are just not acts worth seeing live.

Everyone was jolted awake pretty quickly, though, when LCD Soundsystem came on next and opened up huge with “Us V. Them.”

Not pictured: Giant disco ball.

It was an amazing show. As good as when I saw Daft Punk play at Lollapalooza in 2007 right after an LCD set. Not only was everyone singing along to the chorus of “All My Friends,” an industrious group had brought sparklers along to hold up as the song crescendoed. Throughout the set, everyone was dancing. It was impossible not to.

And then James Murphy and crew finished out the set with “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” perhaps an odd choice as a closer at a Chicago festival, but it was undeniable, especially once Murphy broke out into “Empire State of Mind” before bringing it all to the big finish.



I didn’t have tickets for this day, and it’s probably for the best because a quick but heavy rain shower followed by blistering heat made it humid just to even stay in my apartment. I watched some of the shows online, though, and St. Vincent seemed to do pretty well to have so many downtempo songs in her catalog. Major Lazer was nuts. And Big Boi killed it. He brought out those breakdancing kids again, did a bunch of old OutKast songs (only his verses), rocked his new material and asked the women in the audience to show their boobs.

I’m almost sorry I didn’t brave the heat for that. Almost.

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: Big Boi, “Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty”

I’m not gonna lie. It’s my professional opinion that OutKast has been the most important, influential and beautifully brilliant act in hip-hop, and maybe even all of music, for the past dozen years or so. It’s hard for me to overstate what Big Boi and Andre 3000 have contributed to American culture in that time.

Which is my roundabout way of saying that I expect a lot from them.

Their last proper album as a duo, 2006′s soundtrack to their movie Idlewild, was a pretty colossal disappointment. It’s got some gems (“Mighty O” might be OutKast’s most underappreciated single, and “Morris Brown” is just awesome), but it gets bogged down pretty badly in the not-terribly-interesting plot and characters of a mediocre movie seemingly made to show off Andre’s acting talent.

Their previous album, 2003′s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was an interesting experiment — basically two solo albums in which each member made a couple guest appearances on the other’s record.

I’m not one of those OutKast fans that likes to say either Andre or Big Boi is the better performer of the two. I see that as an unnecessary comparison, since they blend so well together, kind of like rap’s chocolate and peanut butter. But I unapologetically think Speakerboxxx is better than The Love Below, in part because it is a sonic continuation of what the duo had done before on their best albums, Aquemeni and Stankonia, rather than a left turn into trying to be Prince. (For the record, I still think The Love Below is pretty damn good on its own merits.)

In its way, Big Boi’s newest record, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (one serious mouthful of a title), though it comes seven years later, feels a lot like Speakerboxxx 2. And I mean that in the best possible way. It builds on that previous album in an organic way, where you can hear the growth in sound and ideas but it remains very grounded in the infinitely appealing OutKast style of years past.

You can hear it on the album’s first two tracks, the croony “Feel Me (Intro)” and the hard-hitting “Daddy Fat Sax.” (Big Boi could probably have titled every track on here one of his nicknames and had a few left to spare.) They’re both clearly OutKast tunes but neither one feels stale, either. And that’s basically the MO for the remainder of the record, though some experiments (the sour rock of “Follow Us” and Jamie Foxx’s flimsy R&B hook on “Hustle Blood”) don’t work out as well as others (the incredible sonic assault that is “General Patton,” the earworm “Shine Blockas,” the throbbing “Shutterbugg”).

But even the unevenness of the album — the good songs are so good that it’s hard to not skip over the other tracks to get to them — is classic OutKast. Hum “B.O.B.” Now hum “Toilet Tisha.” Exactly.

The only thing keeping Sir Lucious Left Foot from being the great new OutKast album it could be is the huge, gaping Andre 3000-shaped hole in it. He’s completely absent from it save for some spacey production on the track “You Ain’t No DJ,” though it’s no fault of his own. A record label change led to complications that ended up with the two tracks Andre did appear on being left off the record (they’re widely available online).

But I can only imagine what it would be like if Andre had done some verses on the songs that are on here. Thinking of a possible Andre verse on “General Patton” kind of makes my brain melt a little. Dear Internet, someone insert a Dre verse from another song into that one. You’ll be doing the world a favor.

You thought: It’s going to be a steady spin for at least a couple months.

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: The Roots, “How I Got Over”

The Roots have never put out a bad album. Obviously, some are better than others — 1999′s Things Fall Apart is regarded as the standard-bearer and 2004′s The Tipping Point was something of a low point — but few hip-hop acts have managed The Roots’ longevity at all, let alone their stunning consistency.

Conversely, The Roots also haven’t managed to attain the crossover appeal other much less worthy hip-hop acts have managed with relative ease. How I Got Over, the band’s ninth full-length studio album, finally holds that potential in light of the increased visibility ?uestlove, Black Thought and the group have attained through nightly appearances as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. It’s doing well. It debuted around number 7 on Amazon, just behind two of the rappers who have attained that crossover appeal I mentioned: Eminem and Drake.

This album is a good one, maybe the best in their discography, for new listeners to jump on with, partially because it documents the band crawling out of the pretty deep, dark hole of anger of their previous two albums. Those records, Game Theory and Rising Down, are excellent in their own right, but their moody subject matter (on the former, ennui about the war in Iraq, and on the latter, racial tension) made the records something of an intellectual exercise once you got past the booming drums and catchy hooks of initial listens. As Andre 3000 might say, they presented a stack of questions with no answers.

How I Got Over doesn’t dumb down the content as some would suggest is the key to gaining mainstream appeal. Black Thought and a large cohort of guest emcees including former Little Brother member Phonte, Dice Raw and Peedi Peedi are just as astute and insightful with their rhymes as ever. The difference, rather, is in the mood. Opening tracks “Walk Alone,” “Dear God 2.0″ and “Radio Daze” continue the existential dread theme of previous albums, but the next track, “Now or Never” starts a thematic shift that plays through the rest of the album and is most deftly stated in the record’s title track. Yes, there is plenty of bad in the world. And there’s a lot you can’t change. But if you let your worries and your fears stop you from doing the good you can, you’ve done nothing. It’s a simple idea, but it’s stated beautifully, and something people probably need to hear right now.

If you’ve ever read the liner notes of a Roots album, you may have noticed that they number their songs sequentially from album to album (this record includes songs 143 to 156). It’s a little unusual, but it works perfectly for the band, as their body of work has been something of a 17-year-long stream of consciousness. They way their previous albums flow into this one, and the dour attitude of those records is essentially resolved with a new sense of purpose at the end of How I Got Over simply seems of a piece. Even the cover art depicts the arc — Game Theory displayed an ominous game of hangman, Rising Down a sinister and dark cartoon showing the perspective of racists scared of some black menace. The cover of How I Got Over shows a diverse group of silhouettes striding with purpose toward a light. And it’s hard to come away from this album not feeling similarly enlightened.

You thought: It’s going to stay on your iPod for a long time to come.

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: Devo, “Something for Everybody”

I don’t know what it is, but it seems like just about every time a band takes any sort of extended absence from studio work, there’s this weight hanging over their return album. Some burden of proof the band feels like it has to live up to. Some overwhelming need to prove relevance.

That seems to be especially true for Devo, a trailblazing band releasing its first album in 20 years. Unfortunately, Mark Mothersbaugh’s group seems to have mistaken a sad adherence to cliche and cultural reference from the last five years or so as relevance.

Something for Everybody is an apt title for Devo’s new record; the band seems, for maybe the first time in their careers, overeager to please. This is not the group of iconoclasts that released Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! 30-plus years ago for music nerds (and regular nerds) to buy. These clearlyare some guys who have mellowed with age and seem content putting out a record that sounds a whole lot like their previous material, but with a song of which the lyrics are dedicated entirely to the “Don’t tase me bro!” guy.

The cover of the album is a woman eating a variation on the band’s famous helmets from the “Whip It” video. It’s maybe an unintentional depiction of what the band has done. It’s eaten itself, and produced something that sounds unmistakably Devo-like in immediate sound, only with little of the personality that made Devo what it was.

You thought: It was pretty dire.

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: The Black Keys, “Brothers”

I was a late comer to The Black Keys. I heard stuff for years and years about how The Rubber Factory was an amazing record or some show they played was so great. Hell, I even heard their stuff in all kinds of stuff I like (in particular the first episode of Eastbound and Down).

And boy, was I wrong not to listen to them. They really are a terrific band (a two-piece at that). But I was lucky enough to finally get into them with this record, the best of their career so far.

For the past decade or so, The Keys have done some really awesome blues-rock, with a little detour into Delta-tinged psychadelia with 2008′s Catch and Release, but Brothers adds a soulful element that really elevates the material beyond the White Stripes comparisons the duo has engendered since both bands’ debuts.

It’s kind of hard to describe what makes Brothers so good — one of the best albums of a year that’s already packed with great ones — other than to say once you’ve listened to it, you want to hear it again. And again. And again.

I’ve heard some complaints that this album’s biggest downfall is its length — and at 15 songs and 70 or so minutes, it is longer than most pop and rock albums of the last 15 years or so are — but when the material is as good as the first two singles, “Next Girl” and “Tighten Up,” and it really all is, it’s a pleasure to hear two such talented musicians take their time.

I think I’m going to listen to it again.

You thought: It’s probably the album to beat for your top spot this year.

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: Sleigh Bells, “Treats”

Brooklyn noise-rock duo Sleigh Bells sure picked the right title for their debut album. Not because it’s necessarily a treat to listen to it, but in that it’s essentially the musical equivalent of the sugariest or sourest candy you can think of. At first, it’s a sensation you’re not really used to, kind of exhilarating even in its discomfort. But keep ingesting it and it’s not long before you’re as sick as you can be.

Late last year, I downloaded the Sleigh Bells tracks that took the Internet by storm and I got a kick out of them, especially the aural assault that is “Crown on the Ground,” an unabashed beast of a track that’s more about distortion than it is singing or instrumentation.

And I’ll just get this out of the way right now: It’s the best track on the album by far. It’s also basically unchanged from the free demo versions that were floating around all over the web in the last quarter of 2009, as are all the other tracks that were released around that time. There may be a re-recorded vocal track here or an overdub of a guitar track there, but the reports that Sleigh Bells were going to re-create those songs from the ground up were quite overstated.

The most changed of the tracks, “Kids,” has been all but ruined. An echo on the vocals make the near-unlistenable and added-in screams just make the whole exercise unpleasant.

Speaking of unpleasant, many of the not-before-heard tracks simply push the same buttons, repeat themselves or get lulled into conventional “Pure Dance” as-seen-on-TV crappy techno territory. The worst of the bunch, “A/B Machines” will be one of those songs they use to lure terrorists out of hiding one day.

Sleigh Bells’ original handful of downloadable tracks showed a hell of a lot of promise for a new sound that mixed hard rock and thundering breakbeats, contrasted with sugary-sweet pop vocals. One day, if they can manage to hang around longer than their flash-in-the-pan blog band bretheren, they may realize their potential.

But this ain’t it.

You think: It’s pretty disappointing.

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers, The Hold Steady

The summer music season arrives today with the release of a slew of new albums from big-name pop acts competing for your download or disc dollar. With all that new music on the way, I thought I’d change things up a little bit and do three shorter reviews in place of my usual single bimonthly review.

You’re welcome.

Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record

I really wanted to like this album. I did. Broken Social Scene’s previous record, their self-titled 2005 effort, is something I still listen to now.

This album, I probably won’t be listening to even next week.

As I was spinning through it for this review and taking notes, I couldn’t even think of very much to write down about it. For a couple of the tracks, all I could manage was an “eh.” A few others got an “OK.” I wrote down “pretty” to describe certain sections of some songs. But none of it really grabbed me. Where was the energy of this huge collective’s last two records? It seemed to have been sapped away.

I don’t know what this says, but my favorite parts of this record are the ones where nobody’s singing. The only really worthwhile, energetic track, “Meet Me In The Basement,” is an instrumental. “Ungrateful Little Father” ends with a nice instrumental bit, too.

The only other tracks worth mentioning are “Water In Hell,” which sees BSS again channeling indie rock heroes Pavement, and “Me and My Hand,” a stripped-down, tongue-in-cheek ditty about just what it looks like.

If only the rest of the album had shared that inventiveness.

You think: It’s worth streaming once, but not much more than that.

The New Pornographers, Together

The New Pornographers are one of my favorite groups of the last decade, and I’d hold up their first two records to just about anything else you could throw at me, so it was a bit of a disappointment when their last record, Challengers,wasn’t quite up to their standards, despite a couple of effortlessly catchy tracks.

But now I see that that record was merely a step along the way to this one, the group’s full realization of their evolution from power-pop jangle makers to full-on anthemists.

The powerful sound the NPs put on display here, especially in tracks such as “Crash Years” (one of my nominees for track of the year so far), “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk,” and “Daughters of Sorrow,” is one chief songwriter Carl Newman has been crafting for a while on his solo albums, but the contributions of Neko Case, Dan Bejar and the rest of the band really flesh out that kernel here.

That said, the album does include a couple misfires — notably “Valkyrie in the Roller Disco,” which veers away from pop bombast in favor of a bluegrass sound that doesn’t really agree with the band, and “Silver Jenny Dollar,” one of Bejar’s songs, which sounds a little too much like his other contributions to previous albums. (Though another of his tracks, “If You Can’t See My Mirrors,” is a definite step in the right direction.)

Even so, this record stands to shoot the NPs into the echelon that Case has moved into with her own solo work, and they deserve to be there.

You think: It’ll probably slip into your top five this year.

The Hold Steady: Heaven is Whenever

Generally, when I think about The Hold Steady, I tend to think of them as a fun band. You know, hanging around in bars, slinging around beers, laughing a lot and singing songs. When I saw them live a couple years ago at a festival, they were just so happy to be there. It was infectious. Craig Finn and Franz Nicolay and the rest were just having such a great time up there, you couldn’t help but feel the same way.

Now, Franz has left the band, and, as much as I hate to say this, it just doesn’t seem as fun anymore. Their other albums felt like a party. This felt like a slog.

The very first track, “Sweet Part of the City,” comes out of the gate sounding like a Led Zeppelin rip-off, which is not exactly what you want to hear from your favorite neighborhood bar band, and subsequent tracks alternate between a sound something like mid-80s Van Halen, Motley Crue and, weirdly enough, early-00s pop punk, with some lyrics about some kids who want to have fun, kinda maybe, thrown in.

The pop-punkiest track of the bunch, “Hurricane J,” actually does pick up near the end, and the band manages to sound a bit like their old “Boys and Girls in America”-style selves, but it doesn’t last. By the next-to-last track, “Our Whole Lives,” The Hold Steady’s sounding a bit like an impression of themselves.

Much like Broken Social Scene’s effort, THS doesn’t seem to have much interest in trying anything fresh until the last track, here titled “Slight Discomfort.” Finn’s voice here takes on a creepy, ominous vibe with some well-used repetition and the guitar sound is really dark and haunting. It’s not exactly fun either, but it puts on no pretensions that it should be. It’s maybe the most adult song the band has made, and in a good way. Let’s hope the next album sounds more like that.

You think: It’s worth streaming once, but not much more than that.

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: LCD Soundsystem, “This Is Happening”

I’m proud to say that the new record from James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem carries on the fine tradition of the previous two.

You may have by now heard the lead single from the album, “Drunk Girls,” which I hate to inform you is the worst track on the whole thing. It’s got a perfectly danceable up-tempo beat but ends up sounding a lot more like the closing music to a 1980s college slobs vs. snobs comedy than I would prefer. On the album itself, “Drunk Girls” also has the misfortune of following the disarmingly great opener, “Dance Yrself Clean,” which does all the things LCD Soundsystem does really well — great percussion, clever and affecting lyrics and a terrific slow build to a big loud clattering of terrific future-groove sound at the end.

Murphy still can’t really figure out whether he’d prefer to be a heartfelt balladeer, a self-deprecating and self-aware purveyor of detached hipster irony, or just a guy who yells a lot over breakbeats. So here, as he was on the (better, but not by too much) 2007 album Sound of Silver, he’s all three. (Speaking of Sound of Silver, the track “One Touch” sounds like it came right off of it.) Not that there’s anything wrong with switching up moods, but it can be a little disorienting when you go from a pair of very sincere songs (the rocking “All I Want,” and “I Can Change”) to three self-referential, laugh-out-loud-when-you-catch-the lyrics types of tunes (“You Wanted a Hit,” “Pow Pow” and “Somebody’s Calling Me”) and then snapping right back to a pretty ballad to close out everything (“Home”).

But Murphy and group manage to make the sincere-then-detached-then-sincere dichotomy work through just plain great songcraft and some unmistakably catchy beats. Whether he’s tugging your heartstrings or tickling your funnybone, James Murphy’s going to make your feet move.

You: Think it’ll probably be in your top five this year.

Matt Wilson Formulates Your Opinions About Music: David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, “Here Lies Love”

Concept albums about historical figures have always been something of a tricky proposition. Sometimes, they can turn out to be a little obtuse, to the point where longtime fans are surprised to find out that the album was based on anybody. Take Neutral Milk Hotel’s superlatively great album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, which, believe it or not, is about Anne Frank. If I hadn’t read that in interviews and reviews in the course of my budding love affair with that record, I would have never known.

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