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A reinvention that wasn't, really
on 2 October 2007
'Little Creatures' was the first Talking Heads album that was released while I was actually a fan of them. In other words, it was the first album of theirs that I was hoping was going to be good. I was 14. It was brilliant then, and it sounds pretty brilliant today.
What's often underestimated about the Heads is their sheer strangeness. 'Little Creatures' is a highly deceptive album - glossy, precise, beautifully and tastefully played, but entirely without thumping gated reverb, glamorous 80's style digital delay or horrible overdubbage, it sounds weirdly stark and almost puritan next to most other mainstream records of the period. And as for the songs, who the hell knows what 'Give Me Back My Name' is about? 'Television Man' is an anthem in the making that never got played live. 'Road To Nowhere' has to be the most joyful song about death ever put on record. (No wonder that Dave Eggers' liner note praises it, and its incomparable video, for the 'power and knowledge' it seemed to offer him as a soon-to-be-orphaned teenager.)
I had a very strange sense of deja vu when I first heard this album; I seemed to have always known it. To this day, I don't know why 'And She Was' feels like a song I've known since infancy when I can only have been 14 when I first heard it. This is, for my money, Talking Heads' last truly wonderful album, its professional sheen and surface calmness betrayed by all kinds of trouble and anxiety beneath. The next one, 'True Stories', is a mere offshoot of a movie, and while they got it together again for most of the tracks on their final album, they were already hardly a band anymore.
Maybe I just never noticed it before, but the video of 'Road to Nowhere' seems to have necessitated butchering the song somewhat. Bars are dropped and verses are curtailed all over the place. It's still a brilliant video, though.
I don't give many things five stars, but I love this album to bits. And it still comes back to offer me more.