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Speaking in Tongues – Talking Heads

Talking Heads Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in Tongues

(1983), 7.5/10
After Remain in Light, the Talking Heads underwent a three year hiatus, during which they all pursued solo projects. When they reconvened, Brian Eno, basically a core member on Remain in Light, wasn’t invited. The group are less ambitious on Speaking in Tongues, resulting in a more mainstream record. The funk influence is carried over from Remain in Light, and two thirds of the songs are memorable and stuffed full of terrific hooks.

The title Speaking in Tongues refers to the randomness of the lyrics, which often consist of incoherent imagery; opening track ‘Burning Down the House’, which was inspired by religious-like ecstasy that Byrne observed at a Parliament concert. The gospel chorus of ‘Slippery People’, the blues riff of ‘Swamp’ and the ridiculous lyrics of ‘Girlfriend is Better’ are all memorable pop moments, but best of all is the closing ‘This Must Be The Place’, a guarded statement of commitment from Byrne with a lovely melody.

Speaking in Tongues is an enjoyable effort, successfully molding the group’s artistic tendencies into a more light-hearted framework. You may, however, want to skip Speaking in Tongues and go for the expanded version of Stop Making Sense instead – the six best songs are repeated there, and generally sound better in their live versions.

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