American Utopia
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 9, 2018 (2018-03-09)
Studio
Genre
Length37:17
Label
Producer
David Byrne chronology
Brass Tactics
(2014)
American Utopia
(2018)

American Utopia is the tenth studio album by British-American rock musician David Byrne, released on March 9, 2018 through Todo Mundo and Nonesuch Records. The release is his first true solo studio album since 2004's Grown Backwards, and serves as a musical component of a larger multimedia project titled Reasons to Be Cheerful, which attempts to spread positivity. Byrne announced the album and posted its lead single, "Everybody's Coming to My House", online on January 8, 2018.[1] The album received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Album.[2]

Recording and release

The album is part of a larger multimedia project titled Reasons to Be Cheerful which aims to give reasons for being happy and optimistic in spite of political strife and environmental problems.[1] The title is derived from the Ian Dury song "Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3".[3]

Reception

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.0/10[4]
Metacritic72/100[5]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[6]
The A.V. ClubB[7]
The Daily Telegraph4/5 stars[8]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[9]
The Guardian2/5 stars[10]
Mojo4/5 stars[11]
NME4/5 stars[12]
Pitchfork5.8/10[13]
Q4/5 stars[14]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[15]

American Utopia received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has an average score of 72 based on 32 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[5] The Arts Desk's Howard Male gave the album a positive review calling it a "a muscular and quirky return to form".[16] Erik Adams of The A.V. Club gave the album a B, calling the album an uneven "mixed bag" but praising the album's themes.[7]

Commercial reception

American Utopia became Byrne's first solo top 10 album on the Billboard 200, debuting at No. 3 with the equivalent of 63,000 copies sold in the United States.[17]

Adaptations

See also: American Utopia (film)

The release of the album was backed by a world tour that lasted from March to November 2018. The elaborate concert featured an empty stage surrounded by metal chains and a cast of twelve musicians (including Byrne himself) wearing identical gray suits. Cutting-edge technology in wireless audio, MIDI, lighting and real-time tracking was used to totally untether the musicians from any cables, allowing free movement and complex choreography like in Byrne's previous tours. In addition to songs from American Utopia, the setlist incorporated material from Byrne's solo catalogue, several hits by Talking Heads and a cover of Janelle Monáe's "Hell You Talmbout".

In September 2019, an altered version of the concert was previewed at the Colonial Theatre in Boston. It now featured small changes to the setlist and to the structure to achieve a format closer to that of a musical stage production. It premiered on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre in previews on October 4, 2019 and officially on October 20, closing on February 16, 2020.[18] It was set to return to the Hudson for another limited engagement in September 2020, but this was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. A new six-month run started on September 17, 2021, now at the St. James Theatre.

A cast recording of the production titled American Utopia on Broadway was released in 2019 and received a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album nomination.[19] A documentary/concert film version of the Broadway production was directed by Spike Lee and released in late 2020,[20] on HBO.[21]

An homonymous picture book was released in late 2020, intended to be a companion piece to the Broadway show.[22] The book includes words and lyrics by Byrne and illustrations by Maira Kalman.

Track listing

All tracks are written by David Byrne and Brian Eno, except where noted.

American Utopia – Standard edition
No.TitleLength
1."I Dance Like This"3:33
2."Gasoline and Dirty Sheets"3:19
3."Every Day Is a Miracle"4:46
4."Dog's Mind"2:29
5."This Is That" (Byrne, Daniel Lopatin)4:31
6."It's Not Dark Up Here"4:10
7."Bullet"3:09
8."Doing the Right Thing"3:38
9."Everybody's Coming to My House"3:29
10."Here" (Byrne, Lopatin)4:13
Total length:37:17
American Utopia – Deluxe digital edition
No.TitleLength
11."I Zimbra" (Live From Kings Theatre, September 2018) (Byrne, Eno, Hugo Ball)3:12
12."Every Day Is a Miracle" (Live From Kings Theatre, September 2018)4:49
13."Everybody's Coming to My House" (Live From Kings Theatre, September 2018)3:44
14."This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" (Live From Kings Theatre, September 2018) (Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth)4:54
15."Dog's Mind" (Live From Kings Theatre, September 2018)2:57
16."Toe Jam" (Live From Kings Theatre, September 2018) (Byrne, Dylan Mills)3:43
Total length:60:36

Personnel

The American Utopia Tour featured elaborate choreography, a variety of instruments, and matching gray suits for the personnel
The American Utopia Tour featured elaborate choreography, a variety of instruments, and matching gray suits for the personnel
American Utopia continues the collaboration between Byrne and British electronic musician Brian Eno (pictured in 2017) that stretches back to the late 1970s
American Utopia continues the collaboration between Byrne and British electronic musician Brian Eno (pictured in 2017) that stretches back to the late 1970s

Personnel according to David Byrne's homepage.[23]

Technical personnel

Charts

References

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  2. ^ "David Byrne's AMERICAN UTOPIA Nominated For Best Alternative Album Grammy Award". BroadwayWorld.com. Archived from the original on March 29, 2021. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  3. ^ "David Byrne's New Album, American Utopia, Due March 9 on Todomundo / Nonesuch Records". Nonesuch Records. January 8, 2018. Archived from the original on January 8, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  4. ^ "American Utopia by David Byrne reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Archived from the original on September 2, 2019. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "American Utopia by David Byrne Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic. Archived from the original on March 6, 2018. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  6. ^ Deming, Mark. "American Utopia – David Byrne". AllMusic. Archived from the original on January 31, 2019. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Adams, Erik (March 8, 2018). "David Byrne can be your guide to an uneven American Utopia". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on June 18, 2020. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  8. ^ McCormick, Neil (March 8, 2018). "David Byrne's American Utopia is another glittering offering from an old master – review". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  9. ^ Greenblatt, Leah (March 16, 2018). "David Byrne: American Utopia". Entertainment Weekly: 107.
  10. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (March 9, 2018). "David Byrne: American Utopia review – anxiety dreams from centrist dad". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  11. ^ Segal, Victoria (April 2018). "David Byrne: American Utopia". Mojo (293): 95.
  12. ^ Cochrane, Greg (March 5, 2018). "David Byrne – 'American Utopia' Review". NME. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  13. ^ Rytlewski, Evan (March 12, 2018). "David Byrne: American Utopia". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on July 27, 2019. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  14. ^ Doyle, Tom (April 2018). "Dream Team". Q (383): 114.
  15. ^ Hermes, Will (March 9, 2018). "Review: David Byrne Throws a Weird Party in His Mind on 'American Utopia'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 7, 2019. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  16. ^ Male, Howard (March 3, 2018). "CD: David Byrne – American Utopia". The Arts Desk. Archived from the original on March 3, 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
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  19. ^ "Jagged Little Pill, American Utopia, Soft Power & More Earn Grammy Nominations". Broadway.com. Archived from the original on December 1, 2020. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  20. ^ Krep, Daniel (February 1, 2020). "Spike Lee to Direct Film Version of David Byrne's American Utopia Broadway Show". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 8, 2020. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  21. ^ Hayes, Britt (June 17, 2020). "HBO Will Premiere David Byrne's American Utopia, Filmed by Spike Lee". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on June 17, 2020. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  22. ^ "'American Utopia' Book Argues For The Reincarnation Of Hope In The American Project". npr.org. Archived from the original on March 9, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  23. ^ "Credits (and Lyrics) to American Utopia". David Byrne. Archived from the original on October 20, 2020. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
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