Byrne-ing down the House: Talking Heads are reimagined through A24’s upcoming tribute album.

One of our Writers look's at A24's New Tribute Album...

Joseph Williams
28th February 2024
ImageCredit: Instagram@a24
Hang on a minute, is that world-renowned emo Haley Williams wearing a rather large grey suit and making weird shapes with her legs? No, I’m not Speaking in Tongues, this really did happen. Fresh off the success of their most recent project; ‘This is Why’, and subsequent Grammy win, the veteran pop-punk band released the first single from A24’s much-anticipated collaboration album, dedicated to the one and only Talking Heads. For those in the know, I’ll give you no more than a minute to be smug. But if your knowledge of the band only stretches to a man in a grey suit doing silly dances, let me catch you up to speed. 

The Heads began talking in New York, in 1975, fronted by the visionary lead vocalist David Byrne, and supported by Chris Frantz on the drums, Tina Weymouth on bass, and Jerry Harrison on the keys. Throughout their illustrious 11-year run, the quirky quartet managed to amass quite the cult following, with songs like ‘Psycho Killer’ and ‘Burning Down the House’ piercing the mainstream. However, trying to pin down David’s genre (and often mind) bending discography would mean putting him and his band in a box. Whatever you do please never put David Byrne in a box. Broadly speaking, Talking Heads are commonly described as either ‘post-punk’, ‘New Wave’, or both, often combining elements of funk, art-rock, dance and world music to produce what can only be described as an outright vibe for the ages. If this hasn’t inspired you to indulge yourself in a Talking Heads Deep dive then you’re a lost cause. I’ve scheduled a dance break, we’ll reconvene in 10. 

Dance Break over. Welcome back, where were we? Frustratingly, besides Paramore’s most recent release, we don’t know a whole lot else about the project or when it is due to drop.  The album itself will feature 16 different artists, each putting their own wonderful spin on a song from ‘Stop Making Sense’, a Talking Heads live LP that also serves as its own feature-length film, capturing the Heads at the peak of their Live performances. Here Byrne dons his famous grey suit, fit with comically large shoulders and a boxy exterior that serves to compliment his entirely off-the-wall dance routine that so many people associate Talking Heads with. 

As we approach the film’s 40th Anniversary, there really is no better time to honour the film, the band, and the legacy that Talking Heads have kindly left behind. A24, the independent film juggernaut behind this Byrne bonanza, have accompanied the new single with the fitting strapline, ‘Everybody’s getting involved’. I don’t think a collection of artists has better represented ‘Everybody’ than these 16, with the album featuring none other than former Brockhampton front-man Kevin Abstract, Grammy award winner Miley Cyrus, and indie pop powerhouse Lorde. Not to mention the likes of Teezo Touchdown, the National and Girl in Red bringing up the rear. At this point who knows how this eclectic bunch will all sound together under one roof, but I have a feeling it might just be a spark of genius.

What I’m trying to say in a roundabout way is that I love Talking Heads and you should too. I sincerely hope that this upcoming album gives you the kick up the bum to start making Talking Heads one of your personality traits, or at least add one of their songs to your playlist, please. Whether you’re a Talking Heads fanatic (like me), or just discovered the band a mere 500 words ago, this new project is certain to have something to tickle your musical fancy, or scratch that melodic itch. One thing is for certain, the world would undoubtedly be a better place if we all viewed life through the oversized, wobbly, and seriously funky lens of David Byrne. 

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