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American Utopia is David Byrne’s first solo release since ‘Grown Backwards’ in 2004.
The new album started with longtime collaborator Brian Eno, and later David was joined by producer Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, King Krule, Sampha, Savages). Additional contributors include Lopatin (AKA Oneohtrix Point Never), Jam City, Thomas Bartlett, Jack Peñate, and Sampha.
These songs don’t describe an imaginary or possibly impossible place but rather an attempt to depict the world we live in now. Many of us, I suspect, are not satisfied with the 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.
“Is this meant ironically? Is it a joke? Do I mean this seriously? Am I referring to the past or the future? Is it personal or political?
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