Little Creatures (1985)
"We're on the road to nowhere"
Best Song: And She Was
Worst Song: I'm not sure.
Yaaaaaawn. After Stop Making Sense became the biggest thing since sliced *insert pun on the word "bread" here*, the band decided they didn't want to go back to being underground sonic experimentalists. As such, they recorded this, an album of straightforward, bland pop tunes. Sure, they're well-made, but there really isn't much to say here. "And She Was" is actually great, an uptempo number (then again, everything here's uptempo) that actually bothers to include some memorable hooks and melodies. And isn't that bridge where the whole band shouts "hey, HEY! HEY! HEY! hey! HEY HEYYY!" just wonderful? If the whole album was as good as "And She Was", I'd probably like it as much as everybody else seemingly does.
And everybody seems to love it a lot. This is the band's highest-selling album, which does nothing more than prove just how mindless most music listeners are -- a band as great as Talking Heads has to release a super-accessible, boring pop album in order to get any major mainstream success. But hey, that's just how average people are, right? The critics probably attacked this thing, didn't they?...
...well, nope. It was actually voted best album of the year by that yearly Pazz & Jop album-reception-tallying-thing (if you've never heard of it, it's essentially the magazine equivalent of Metacritic). Allmusic gave it 4.5 stars, Rolling Stone gave it a positive review, and even the consensus of the Web Review Community is that it's a fairly great album, one worthy of comparison with '77. Um...no. Well, at least, not in my opinion.
I guess I should talk about the songs, but I feel like the description of every track would be the same. The stuff here is generally pleasant background music, but I would never listen to any of these tracks (save maybe "And She Was") if not for having to review them. The whole thing just swirls around in my head as a bland, unintelligible group of very 80s pop songs, and forgettable ones at that.
"Creatures of Love" is a decent country-tinged song that tackles the subject of sex in the most hilariously bland way possible. I mean, I suppose I should be proud of Byrne for even mentioning the subject, but if he's just going to view it as "okay" and as a way to produce "little creatures", then I don't know why he would even bring it up. Then again, his completely uncaring attitude about sexuality is admittedly funny, so I suppose it's entertaining. The song really isn't though; all I can say about it is that it sounds like mid-80s Talking Heads doing a country song. Yeah.
"Give Me Back My Name" features a cool sonic texture, but the song itself is essentially melody-less. I suppose the basic tune of "Stay Up Late" is good enough, but the lyrics are so stupid that it's almost hard to listen to. The gist of the song is that Byrne is so obsessed with his baby that he wants to stay up all night with it, but his goofy delivery and the even goofier lyrics make it sort of a pain to listen to...and the god-awful hip-hop break in the bridge doesn't help matters. Lead single "The Lady Don't Mind" is a little better; the keyboard tone is straight out of Let's Dance, Byrne's delivery is fairly nice, and the horn section is a nice touch. Heck, I'd go as far as saying that it's actually catchy, so...good job, guys!
The closing "Road to Nowhere" is kind of a highlight; the band brings back the martial drumbeat from "Tentative Decisions" (man, I should be listening to '77 right now...) and throws in a ridiculously odd choral intro, giving the song something of a regal feel. I mean, the melody is as forgettable as everything else on here, but it's not bad! "Walk It Down" is also one of the better tracks here, full of groovy synths and featuring a nice chorus. And the little filter that Byrne sings through here is pretty cool-sounding, admittedly.
But everything else? Meh. It's all just in one ear and out the other, and while you could do much worse than this album, you could also do a lot better. Grab the highlights on iTunes, but don't get the album itself unless you're a big fan of 80s pop (and even if you are a fan of 80s pop, you'd do better just to get True Stories anyway).