Album Reviews: Talking Heads, Dehd, Orville Peck

Various Artists – Everyone’s Getting Involved: A Tribute to Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense

With a discography as varied and excitingly weird as the Talking Heads have, the one problem their tribute album has at times is simply how often the cover artists basically do a karaoke-esque remake. But when the artists throw a lot of their own style and colour into the mix, this record gets some amazing gems that highlight just how powerful Talking Heads’ writing was. Slow-burning and growly, Blondshell really plays with the vibe of “Thank You for Sending Me an Angel,” turning it into this meditative swirl of a listen, rather than its usual charging lead. Paramore strikes the most direct and yet fun takes of the record on “Burning Down the House,” that doesn’t change a lot, but goes all in on the live fun of “Stop Making Sense” that many other artists on the album forget is part of the DNA in the first place. There’s a quaint warmth and funky groove in the double collab between Norah Jones and BADBADNOTGOOD on “This Must Be the Place” that once again touches on the live show’s more grandiose scale. In other places Toro Y Moi & Brijean perfect the dreamy seductiveness of “Genius of Love” and ditch just enough of the cringe-inducing shouts to make it work better than ever, almost winking at its roots. Girl in Red really plays around with dynamics and instrumental highlights more than her peers on “Girlfriend Is Better,” and that ten seconds she’s running with the chants of “Stop making sense, making sense,” are the sonic peak of the whole album, to the point it’s a shame she doesn’t make more out of that one moment.

Nelly Furtado & Tove Lo & SG Lewis Love Bites (Single)
Victoria, British Columbia/Helsingborg, Sweden/Reading, England

Mixing the intense sexuality of Nelly Furtado’s older tracks and Tove Lo’s latest, the pair collab on an intensely seductive duet that is overflowing with an insane amount of hooks. Within its club beats and cloudy synths, both singers trade between call and responses with each other, and lush harmonies. The effortless flow of the track manages to push that sultry angle in all the right ways to make its smooth-as-butter writing work as a celebration rather than a too-easy radio banger. Short and sweet, the pair highlight each of their vocal talents, whether explosive or pointed, for a divine single that seems like it was concocted in a dream.

Orville Peck – Stampede Vol. 1
Johannesburg, South Africa/Toronto

In a true spirit of collaboration, Orville Peck assembled a team and made an EP with fellow legends to make something short and more varied than his usual work. Though this does diminish the overall cohesion of this latest release as a larger whole, the one-off highs Peck achieves here are worth the mileage. There’s a lot of layered fun and gleeful torch-passing with Willie Nelson on “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other,” as Nelson nods to the country tradition and his own history with the song, while letting Peck help cement the song for a modern context. While it doesn’t really add to the grime or shift its pace too much, it’s fun to hear the vocal play between Elton John and Peck on “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting),” particularly in the smaller moments and little inflections they add to spice up their duets. A sassy sway and big stomping drive lets “Chemical Sunset” provide the midway saloon interlude for the album, almost drifting into a theatrical cabaret flow at times. The flaring horns and overt drama of “Miénteme” makes for an infectious listen with Bu Cuaron in tow, and the track’s more intense pop and Western movie approach to the sound gives it a distinct place on the record.

Amyl and The Sniffers – “U Should Not Be Doing That” & “Facts” (Double Single)
Melbourne, Australia

On their latest career high and sharp as an arsenal of knives, Amyl and the Sniffers drop another set of singles to set our summer ablaze “U Should Not Be Doing That” grinds with more bass and rhythmic focus than the band usually allow, with singer Amy Taylor digging in more growl as her band gets even darker tonally. The extra percussive rings are a satisfying touch and each repeat of her screaming the song’s title has you wanting to shout it back with her more than the last. “Facts” plays to all the lightning-speed highs we want out of the band, veering like a runaway train and smashing in its pre-choruses like a car hitting walls on a sharp turn. The band is a united beast in the choruses, swapping between cataclysmic charges and harmonies like they were born from the same primal chord.

Dehd Poetry
Chicago, IL

With the most subtle of shifts in their sound over the years, Dehd have managed to move on and upwards with each of their simple but effective albums. Full of soothing tones and a mesmerizing level of tiny details in the mix, they deliver a perfect summer record for hanging in a park with friends. There’s a sunny, daydreaming cool to “Dog Days” as the record opens on a rollicking drive, with so many evolving and overlapping vocal lines that it sends you into a daze by its first chorus. The slips between blown-out garage rock and even more hazy, jangle pop lets “Mood Ring” soar in its ecstatic flow. Stop and go momentum with a layered harmonic glow lets “Alien” start building like a perfect campfire, while evoking all the most fun parts of Grouplove to leave you grinning from ear to ear on every group shout. Even the sparser, drum-driven swing of “Light On” brings a glee that’s hard to shake as it gets into second gear, with the band’s cheerful aesthetics lulling you in, and masking a more nuanced bit of storytelling.