Grown Backwards - David Byrne

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. The beauty and richness of our seemingly mundane lives can be found here, in the bossa-nova of minor catastrophes, the pseudo-jazz of strippers, and the easy lilt of coffee cups.
  2. Byrne's affectless tenor is a perfect match for the delicate bob-and-weave grooves on this CD. [26 Mar 2004, p.74]
  3. If it's not his best, it's easier to warm up to than most of his solo releases.
  4. With the possible exception of his work with Brian Eno, Backwards is his most technically honed album to date. This is the stuff of an artist refreshingly confident with his work.
  5. 80
    Lean arrangements, never predictable melodic ticks and some of Byrne's most deliciously quirky lyrics ensure an event-packed listen. [Apr 2004, p.99]
  6. A genuinely moving and wickedly fun record.
  7. These are wonderful exercises in songcraft: full of metaphors, twists and punchlines, couched in sprightly string arrangements and sung with rare flamboyance.
  8. 80
    Young pretenders beware: this old dog isn’t so much learning new tricks as inventing them.
  9. [A] marvelously sophisticated, extremely political album.
  10. It fits alongside the best of his career and adds another solid release to a solo catalog which will hopefully become more cherished in time.
  11. 70
    The instrumental palette is more wide-ranging in a subtler, more subversive manner. [Apr 2004, p.96]
  12. Extends the with-strings concept of last year's Lead Us Not Into Temptation and is equally arresting in its breadth of content and creativity. [Apr 2004, p.107]
  13. The casually odd music and Byrne's subtle evocations of loneliness work together to suggest that it's great to be your own favorite weirdo, but not paying attention to the rest of the world around you, well, that's really strange.
  14. Grown Backwards' restraint risks landing it in a coffeehouse ghetto that only asks for its music to be ignorable, but just because something can be ignored doesn't mean that it should, as the solid handful of excellent moments here proves.
  15. A worthy addition to Byrne's sprawling oeuvre, while never reaching the heights of his greatest work. [#242, p.57]
  16. His voice devoid of Newman-Waits grit, his eclecticism even and controlled where theirs bristles with jokes, oddity, and gusto, how does he expect to connect with anyone but other likable progressives, and rather detached and inscrutable ones at that?
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. MaxC
    Apr 5, 2006
    An excellent album by Byrne featuring what has to be his single greatest solo song and recording "Glass, Concrete and Stone", originally featured in Stephen Frears' "Dirty Pretty Things". Lyrically, Byrne is quite political while still very poetic with his usual gorgeous images of birds and buildings and mysterious women. His operatic duet with Rufus Wainwright is a definite grower and the island-tinged "Little Appocalypse" is yet another whimsical career high. It's an album that requires keeping an open mind - but its rewards are absolutely worth each repeated listen. Full Review »
  2. AshleyM
    Feb 26, 2005
    David Byrne is in perfect vocal condition on this album. The opener "Glass, Concrete and Stone" is a beautiful track, with strings and percussion that brings to mind an elephant defying the laws of physics and dancing on a metal rooftop in a rainstorm. The opera tracks were a big and welcome surprise. Full Review »
  3. JohnB
    May 21, 2004
    Outstanding. A masterpiece.