The much lusted after collaboration between David Byrne and St. Vincent reached a fever pitch during their Love This Giant Tour last year, which they're taking on the road again this summer much to the delight of disheveled (that's code for an H word I'm so sick of hearing that I can't even bring myself to write it) music fans everywhere. In anticipation of this event, the duo has released a free five track EP entitled Brass Tactics. With two songs that previously appeared on the Love This Giant album, "I Should Watch TV" and "Lightning," the offerings on this EP are not necessarily rare, but engaging to listen to nonetheless.
Opening with the ambient "Cissus," a previously unreleased track, the seamless harmony between Byrne and St. Vincent echoes the sound of a 90s acoustic band. The following song, an M. Stine remix of "I Should Watch TV," is a gently caustic statement about investing time in television. With lyrics like, "I used to think that I should watch TV/I used to think that it was good for me/Wanted to know what folks were thinkin'/Understand the land I live in," Byrne comments on a decades old argument about the frivolity and vacuousness of this common medium. Realizing that "The more I lost myself/The more it set me free," Byrne espouses self-exploration through connecting meaningfully with others.
The Kent Rockafeller remix of "Lightning" is an especially brass band-tinged song with dulcet vocals from St. Vincent. So distracting is the sound of her voice, that it's difficult to even focus on the words she's actually singing. Though, if you're truly curious, part of this tale of lightning includes, "But if I should wake up and find my home's in half/Who is it? Blame nature, I guess I have to laugh." Yet another example of the simultaneous seriousness and levity that Byrne and St. Vincent exude, this is one of the most standout tracks on the EP.
"Marrow" is the first of two live tracks on Brass Tactics. Coming across as a poetic anatomy lesson, St. Vincent opens the song with an acapella overture, stating,
"Muscle connects to the bone/And the bone to the ire and marrow/I wish I had a gentle mind and a spine made up of iron/Mouth connects to the teeth/And teeth to the loves and the curses/Honey, can you reach that spot?/That needs oil and fixin'"
The track then segues into a frenetic arrangement of trumpets as Byrne and St. Vincent sing/spell "H-E-L-P, Help Me" in tandem. Perhaps one of their more sinister joint efforts, this is the most distinctive song off the EP.
The final--and most perfect--song to conclude Brass Tactics is a live performance of the signature Talking Heads track, "Road to Nowhere." In many ways, the Love This Giant Tour is one giant road to nowhere, continuing endlessly until Byrne/St. Vincent enthusiasts stop taking an interest--which doesn't look to be anytime soon.
You can download the free EP here.