A collaborated effort from the likes of David Byrne and Fatboy Slim almost seems to good to be true. But the fun doesn’t end there; Here Lies Love is a concept album about Imelda Marcos the formers first lady of the Philippines that chronicles her life up until being forced to leave the country with her family. So it is clear from the get go that, with such an obscure and elaborate back-story to work with that this album is more than just any other concept album.
David Byrne said that he was making the project to be a record that could be played on the dance floor but still told a story, something that rarely happens on dance records. This is most certainly accomplished on Love; almost every track on the album is a solidly produced, poppy dance song. But perhaps the most impressive feature of the album is its impressive list of guest vocalists. Twenty-one singers lend their talents to the record, including the likes of St. Vincent, Sharon Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Santigold, and Steve Earl, as well as David Byrne supplying vocals on “American Troglodyte.”
Where the album succeeds is in the compositions of each song. It doesn’t take much effort to craft a good dance song, but what makes David Byrne and Fatboy Slim special is their ability to arrange. The album is filled to the brim with lush strings and brass intermixed with electronic beats and synthesizers. Although the arrangements range from orchestral musical-esque moments to pure dance beats, there is a cohesiveness reached that makes each part feel right.
Although this is a very solid album, it begins to feel somewhat long. At 22 tracks and a 90 minute running time, it becomes quite the commitment to sit down and listen to. Luckily, each track is crafted to be a dance song, which allows one to listen to bits and pieces of the album, but this defeats the purpose of a concept album. The best way to view Here Lies Love, perhaps, is as a much better version of Abba. Each track is a great dance song, and if you want well-crafted stories behind your dancing, this is the album for you.
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P-G
Key Tracks: “How Are You”, “Eleven Days”, “American Troglodyte”
Recommended if you like: Yeasayer, Vampire Weekend, and Passion Pit.
W = Poor
W-P = Fair
W-P-G = Great
W-P-G-U = An instant classic!