David Byrne Grown Backwards (Nonesuch/Elektra) Rating: NN
If you thought David Byrne struggling with the harmonic and rhythmic complexity of Brazilian music was hard to take, wait till you hear him bellowing in a poperatic style with over-egged chamber string accompaniment. Along with the uncomfortable vocal duel with Rufus Wainwright, Byrne makes his usual forays into worldbeaty fusions while obliquely decrying social injustice and political oppression. Genre classifications, like geographical boundaries and cultural codes, mean little to Byrne, who continues to play mix 'n' match with sounds, forms and signifiers. The self-consciously contrived Grown Backwards shows that still works better on paper than in practice.