Fear of Music

(1979), 9/10
Fear of Music is even nervier than More Songs About Buildings and Food; dominated by effective dual guitar parts, where Harrison and Byrne lock into complimentary rhythms. Eno’s production is perfect, with the denser sound helping the band sound more compelling. The nerviness comes from David Byrne’s intensely paranoid lyrics; many of the songs are about phobias of specific objects, including ‘Drugs’, ‘Heaven’, ‘Animals’, and ‘Air’. King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp adds muscular deftness to the opener ‘I Zimbra’, with nonsense lyrics by poet Hugo Ball, adding up to my favourite Talking Heads song. ‘Memories Can’t Wait’ marries a haunting atmosphere to a stomping rhythm, while ‘Air’ and ‘Drugs’ also showcase an increasing fondness for space. ‘Mind’, ‘Paper’ and ‘Electric Guitar’ all whack simple repetitive guitar riffs into the ground. The single ‘Life During Wartime’ features some of Byrne’s best lyrics; “heard of some gravesites, out by the highway, a place where nobody knows.” Even though I prefer the funk textures of the following two albums more, Fear of Music is so consistent and compelling that it clearly ranks as their second best record.

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