David Byrne, founding member and lead singer of the 1970s new-wave institution Talking Heads, has announced the release of his forthcoming new solo album, American Utopia. The announcement was made during a presentation of Reasons To Be Cheerful (a Byrne-curated series of writings, music and lectures) to a live audience at New York’s New School, as well as live-streamed on Byrne’s Facebook page.
Along with this announcement came the release of a new album track titled “Everybody’s Coming To My House,” co-written with Brian Eno and featuring contributions from TTY, Happa Isaiah Barr (Onyx Collective), Mercury Prize winner Sampha and others.
While Byrne has collaborated with other artists to release new music recently (including Eno, Fatboy Slim and St. Vincent), this album will be the artist’s first solo album since 2004. The album artwork (included below), done by artist Purvis Young, displays a face of undetermined race or gender looking down, dreaming or meditating over a city skyline where human-like figures are seen leaning on the surreal buildings.
Whether this album will be political or satirical is still hard to tell. The newly released lead track, from first impressions, sounds poppy and funky with saxophone overtones driving the chorus over synthesized break beats and Byrne’s lyrics of: “Everybody’s coming to my house, and I’m never going to be alone.”
In a lengthy statement about the album, Byrne said:
Is this meant ironically? Is it a joke? Do I mean this seriously? In what way? Am I referring to the past or the future? Is it personal or political?
These songs don’t describe an imaginary or possibly impossible place but rather attempt to depict the world we live in now. Many of us, I suspect, are not satisfied with that world—the world we have made for ourselves. We look around and we ask ourselves—well, does it have to be like this? Is there another way? These songs are about that looking and that asking.
This album is indirectly about those aspirational impulses. Sometimes to describe is to reveal, to see other possibilities. To ask a question is to begin the process of looking for an answer. To be descriptive is also to be prescriptive, in a way. The act of asking is a big step. The songs are sincere—the title is not ironic. The title refers not to a specific utopia, but rather to our longing, frustration, aspirations, fears, and hopes regarding what could be possible, what else is possible. The description, the discontent and the desire—I have a feeling that is what these songs touch on.
I have no prescriptions or surefire answers, but I sense that I am not the only one looking and asking, wondering and still holding onto some tiny bit of hope, unwilling to succumb entirely to despair or cynicism.
It’s not easy, but music helps. Music is a kind of model—it often tells us or points us toward how we can be.
The full text of Byrne’s note can be found on the album’s website here. Listen to “Everybody’s Coming To My House” below, along with a 1980 Talking Heads performance from the Paste Cloud. American Utopia is out March 9 via Todomundo/Nonesuch Records. See the album tracklist and artwork below, as well, along with Byrne’s current tour slate—he’ll soon be announcing an extensive world tour.
American Utopia Tracklist:
01 “I Dance Like This”
02 “Gasoline And Dirty Sheets”
03 “Every Day Is A Miracle”
04 “Dog’s Mind”
05 “This Is That”
06 “It’s Not Dark Up Here”
08 “Doing The Right Thing”
09 “Everybody’s Coming To My House”
American Utopia Album Art:
David Byrne Tour Dates:
03 – Red Bank, N.J. @ Count Basie Theatre
04 – Wilkes-Barre, Pa. @ F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
06 – Buffalo, N.Y. @ Center For The Arts
07 – Hershey, Pa. @ Hershey Theatre
09 – Waterbury, Conn. @ Palace Theatre
10 – Kingston, N.Y. @ Ulster Performing Arts Center
16 – Santiago, Chile @Lollapalooza (Chile)
18 – Buenos Aires, Argentina @ Lollapalooza (Argentina)
24 – Sao Paulo, Brazil @Lollapalooza (Brazil)
07 – Guadalajara, Mexic @Sonico Festival
14 – Indio, Calif. @Coachella
21 – Indio, Calif. @ Coachella
04-06 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Shaky Knees
22-23 – Prague, Czech Republic @ Metronome Festival
25 – Zagreb, Croatia @ INmusic Festival
30-01 – Ewijk, Netherlands @ Down The Rabbit Hole
30-07 – Roskilde, Denmark @ Roskilde Festival
05 – Gydnia, Poland @ Open’er Festival
11 – Oeiras, Protugal @ Cool Jazz Festival
13 – Bilbao, Spain @ Bilbao BBK Live Festival
13-14 – Barcelona, Spain @ Cruilla Barcelona
19 – Ravenna, Italy @ Ravenna Festival
20 – Perugia, Italy @ Umbria Jazz Festival
21 – Trieste, Italy @ Piazza UNita
27 – Camden, N.J. @ XPoNential Music Festival