David Byrne

Compared to the spiky art rock and shape-shifting funk of the first four Talking Heads albums, David Byrne’s solo career has been mostly lackluster. Aside from his sampladelic innovations with Brian Eno on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and his sizzling score to Twyla Tharp’s dance piece The Catherine Wheel (both 1981), nothing in Byrne’s canon matches his Heads output. But Lead Us Not Into Temptation is Byrne’s best work in many years. The soundtrack to Scottish director David MacKenzie’s Young Adam (adapted from Alexander Trocchi’s 1954 novel, which Byrne calls a “sleazier version of Camus’ The Stranger“), the album delves into rich orchestral terrain that could be termed “pastoral noir” — think Angelo Badalamenti in a more morose mood and with higher Euro-classical aspirations. Dominated by strings and keyboards, Temptation approaches John Barry’s stoic majesty, veers into casually swinging jazz (Mingus’ “Haitian Fight Song” is covered) and even flirts with Thomas Köneresque isolationist ambience. Most impressive, Temptation achieves emotional resonance while avoiding Hollywood signifiers.

Categories: Music