Here Lies Love

David Byrne / Fatboy Slim

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Here Lies Love Review

by Matt Collar

A concept album based around the lives of Imelda Marcos and her nanny Estrella Cumpas, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's (Norman Cook) Here Lies Love is primarily a great pop record featuring a bevy of name female vocalists. Grand conceptual themes aside, Byrne, Slim, and Slim cohort Tom Gandey (aka Cagedbaby) have delivered a kooky, fun, theatrical, and -- more often than not -- deliriously listenable collection of '70s and '80s club pop. Inspired by a disparate set of sources, not the least of which included his reading of Ryszard Kapuscinski's book The Emperor as well as various reports detailing the former First Lady of the Philippines' penchant for disco and club life, Byrne formulated this would-be stage production based around the notion -- as he says in the liner notes -- of the "bubble worlds of the rich and powerful" set to the popular sounds (disco, soul, Latin beats, cabaret) of Marcos' time in power. While there is no dialogue in this production, Byrne has crafted each track throughout the album to tell the story and evoke the emotional state of Marcos and her longtime nanny Cumpas' emotional state. And while the story hangs together quite well, the main impression you are left with is that Byrne and Slim have impeccable taste in female singers. Here we get British songstress Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine) delivering the title prologue track, an anthemic disco-inflected number that recalls any number of Studio 54 diva hits. Similarly, Tori Amos takes on the role of Marcos' mother, Remedios, on the eerie flamenco-infused "You'll Be Taken Care Of." Along the way you get '80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper, alt-country-rocker Allison Moorer, Irish soul siren Roisin Murphy, Philly punk-dance singer Santigold, Natalie Merchant, Nellie McKay, Martha Wainwright, Sharon Jones, and others.

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