Stop Making Sense

Stop Making Sense ★★★★½

In the studio, Talking Heads are inscrutable and alien, hermetically sealed within their chilly beats and existential dread. This is perhaps a consequence of their very late-'70s/early-'80s production or maybe an intentional choice of aesthetic, but regardless, it's a vital aspect of the band's sonic identity, and I regard it very much as a feature, not a bug, of the band. Which is why it's such a shock to discover that onstage, Talking Heads became an honest-to-goodness, heart-in-the-gut rock band without compromising a modicum of their essential character. Would you have guessed that the band that gave us "Houses in Motion" could break a sweat? Well, they can; in fact, the band practically spends the entire set drenched in perspiration. It's a fantastic feat of both the band's formidable, go-for-broke musicianship and Jonathan Demme's shadowy, evocative filmmaking that the band becomes as immediate as it does without sacrificing the cock-eyed existentialism that makes their music so compelling. And not to downplay any of the many, many talented individuals that make this film one of rock's greatest visual documents, but the protagonist here is unquestionably David Byrne, who thrashes about the stage like a human in exuberant agony at the realization that he doesn't know what it means to act human. In his herky-jerky dances was born a generation of Thom Yorkes and Annie Clarks; within Demme's frame, the strange geometry of this brilliant man is mesmerizing.

Block or Report

momalley liked these reviews