CD Special – Love This Giant, by David Byrne & St. Vincent

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Released September 10, 2012

44 min, 33 sec

I woke up this morning and realized that I hadn’t thought about today’s Special at all. So, I sat down in front of my CD rack, and essentially picked one at random.

I’m telling you this just to let you know that there are no grand designs for the structure of this blog, or the order of the Specials. Sometimes, I just pick a thing because it’s there and I need content because I forgot to pre-plan, because I’m an idiot.

Now then. Love This Giant. Weird album. Weird packaging.

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I can’t speak for the vinyl version of this album – I assume it is closer to “standard” vinyl packaging, because of the prohibitively high cost of selling vinyl – but the CD version is packaged in a way I’ve never seen before. The CD and included artwork is held in a clear plastic sleeve, kind of like those sleeves you get when you buy computer software, but softer and more…what’s the name for this kind of material? Rubber plastic? I don’t know.

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The album title and tracklist are printed directly on the sleeve, allowing the interior artwork to be clear of any text when viewed separately. The album comes with four pieces of artwork printed on thick cardstock, each one having a gold-print reverse side. The gold print provides the backdrop for the tracklist on the back of the album sleeve.

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The artwork is very, very strange – all clay sculptures, with no clear meaning behind them.  The cover itself is meant to evoke Beauty and the Beast, from a literal standpoint – Byrne is the beauty, while Clark is the beast, with her weird prosthetics.  (I don’t really get it.)

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The CD is in its own cardboard sleeve to prevent it from being scratched, and the sleeve has the album credits printed on it. When you break it down, the packaging is very simple, with few components, but it combines for a highly unusual and distinctive visual experience.

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Oh, and the album’s pretty cool, too.

Not content to simply say “what if David Byrne and Annie Clark sang some songs together, eh?”, the two of them enlisted a brass ensemble to provide the backbone of their collaboration. Every single song features major horn riffs, often becoming the central musical feature of a given song. These horns are complimented by simple but aggressive percussion, Clark’s distinctive guitar playing, and a set of other organic and electronic instrumentation, providing an eclectic and unique sound that defined the collaboration of David Byrne and St. Vincent. The lyrical subject matter straddles the common themes that both Byrne and St. Vincent tend to write about, from abstract lamentations to direct indictments of modern media. Overall, it’s just a really catchy album, and, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been big on lyrics, anyway.

The duo toured with their brass ensemble and a few other musicians to round out the band throughout 2012 and 2013, as well as releasing a free EP entitled Brass Tactics last year (that’ll be coming up in a month or so here). The collaboration has since run its course, it seems, but we’ll always have Love This Giant to remember.

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