David Byrne - Lead Us Not into Temptation: Music from the Film Young Adam

David Byrne
Lead Us Not into Temptation

[Music from the Film Young Adam]

(Thrill Jockey)

First Appeared at The Music Box, October 2003, Volume 10, #10

Written by T.J. Simon

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Since splitting with the Talking Heads, David Byrne’s output has been a mixed bag of musical styles. From the Latin joy of 1989’s Rei Momo to the electro-pop of 1997’s Feelings, there always has been something to enjoy on his likable, if imperfect, solo outings. Byrne’s latest effort is the soundtrack to Young Adam, a Scottish film starring Ewan McGregor. Rather than writing songs within his typical vein — if there is such a thing — he approached the project from a traditional, largely instrumental means. The result is an album of music by David Byrne, the composer, rather than David Byrne, the eccentric rock star.

The songs on Lead Us Not into Temptation were clearly written to track specific scenes within Young Adam. They have titles such as Body in a River, Sex on the Docks and Canal Life, and, for the most part, they are ethereal instrumental numbers that are subtle and generally pleasant. The highlight is the jazz combo treat Haitian Fight Song, which serves as a testament to Byrne’s musical breadth. Unfortunately, the two songs with Byrne’s vocals are fairly disappointing. On Speechless, he delivers the lyrics sounding like he has a jaw full of novocaine. Things improve on The Great Western Road, but the gloomy cadence doesn’t let him put much energy behind the performance.

Byrne is joined by members of Mogwai, Belle and Sebastian, and The Delgados on the string and piano compositions, but you’d never know it without looking at the album’s credits. Separated from the motion picture that the music was written to accent, Lead Us Not into Temptation is ultimately a pretty dull listen. Granted, this isn’t an altogether fair criticism for it’s kind of like disparaging the basil outside of the pesto sauce. After all, the score of a movie shouldn’t distract the viewer from what’s happening on the screen, and Byrne succeeds in keeping the music restrained and not at all overbearing. But unlike the distinctive scoring of Hans Zimmer or Ennio Morricone, there’s nothing particularly special about this collection of songs when judged in a vacuum away from its companion film. starstar ˝

Lead Us Not into Temptation: Music from the Film Young Adam
is available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2003 The Music Box