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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Everything Happens Review

Growing old gracefully once you’ve been canonized isn’t easy. Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, isn’t an indulgence, a tenure requirement, or an out of left field experiment, it’s a collaboration born over a friendly lunch. Eno had been working on these tracks, some existing for the past 8 years, and given his history of lyrical ambivalence he asked Byrne to contribute some words to a collection of “electric gospel songs”.

Drawing on several other canonized acts, most notably Flaming Lips sunny day textures and rhythms, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today shows Eno and Byrne weighing in on alternative rock music from the platform of elder statesmen, unanimously positive and excited about the potential of the next generation and their place within it.

Opener “Home” sets the tone of the record both musically and thematically. Byrne’s extended vocal lines hover over a minimal bass line and a bed of acoustic guitar and keyboard textures. On the chorus Byrne sings, “I’m looking for a home/Where the wheels are turning”, an enthusiastic view of aging and the prospect of artistic domesticity. Throughout the album Byrne’s soaring vocal melodies never verge on the terse paranoia of his work with the Talking Heads, they simmer in a wash of harmonies and reverb. He sounds really content to be singing these songs.

Aside from the tense and dated trip-hop experiment “I Feel My Stuff” and pensively fast “Poor Boy”, the album’s tone is unanimously positive. “Strange Overtones”, a fuzzed out tropical bongo and organ groove, tongue in cheek reminisces over maverick musical innovations becoming passé. The saccharin of “One Fine Day”, recently performed live by Byrne accompanied by a choir of senior citizens, features an army of Eno-provided harmonies and is the most spot-on candidate for the electronic gospel genre.

Eno and Byrne haven’t gone stale, boring, or irrelevent, but for those looking for a genre-busting record of musical superhero proportions, this isn’t it. The album succeeds in serving up a satisfying listening experience and a gentle reminder of Eno and Byrne’s longevity rather than their reinvention.

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