It’s hard to think of a more inspirational and important figure in indie music than David Byrne. The leader of legendary alternative band Talking Heads in the 1970s and 1980s, Byrne has continued to release groundbreaking recordings in recent years. His latest effort is a song called “This is That,” and you can check it out on the Rolling Stone Magazine Website.
When the song begins, it sounds like nothing like most of his previous work, but of course you have to expect the unexpected when it comes to David Byrne. The song is dominated by synthesizers and electronic beats and has a bit of techno feel. Initially, Byrne’s voice is much, much lower than it is on classic Talking Heads tracks such as “Psycho Killer,” but about a minute into the song it goes into the higher register that fans are familiar with.
Rolling Stone asked Byrne why he made such a mainstream-sounding record, and the singer replied that he’s cool with a pop sound in a song as long as the lyrics are meaningful and not typical “boy meets girl” bubblegum fare. In the case of “This is That,” I’d say the lyrics are a bit ambiguous but in general appear to be about an ordinary person looking for guidance and hope from a powerful one. Perhaps the narrator of the song is looking for spiritual inspiration and is making financial contributions to a preacher.
No matter what the words mean, I think this is a solid piece of work by Byrne, and I’m happy to see him releasing new material instead of resting on his laurels. Personally, I think the strongest measures of the song are when all of the instrumentation cuts out except for a piano and Byrne’s famous voice.