At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Robert Christgau Word of the Day

callow adj. Lacking adult maturity or experience; immature (
Talking Heads 77 [Sire, 1977]

A debut LP will often seem overrefined to habitues of a band's scene, so it's not surprising that many CBGBites felt betrayed when bits of this came out sounding like Sparks or Yes. Personally, I was even more put off by lyrics that fleshed out the Heads' post-Jonathan Richman, so-hip-we're-straight image; when David Byrne says "don't worry about the government," the irony is that he's not being ironic. But the more I listen the more I believe the Heads set themselves the task of hurdling such limitations, and succeed. Like Sparks, these are spoiled kids, but without the callowness or adolescent misogyny; like Yes, they are wimps, but without vagueness or cheap romanticism. Every tinkling harmony is righted with a screech, every self-help homily contextualized dramatically, so that in the end the record proves not only that the detachment of craft can coexist with a frightening intensity of feeling--something most artists know--but that the most inarticulate rage can be rationalized. Which means they're punks after all. A- (


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home