American Utopia
David Byrne - American Utopia
Critic Score
Based on 25 reviews
2018 Ratings: #102 / 135
User Score
Based on 74 ratings
2018 Ratings: #108
March 9, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
Todomundo, Nonesuch / Label
Art Pop / Genres
Your Review



Byrne isn't shying away from the bigger picture on American Utopia by the pretense of making a positive record, but is trying his damn best to encourage listeners to contribute to making the world a better place and fixing the problem they may have perpetuated.


With a little help from old buddy Brain Eno, in addition to younger guns like Sampha and Jam City, Byrne has managed to distil his unique brand of social commentary and fused it with a sense of joy too often missing from alternative music.


It’s an album packed with Byrne’s trademark eccentricity, with the odd immediately accessible moment.

The Line of Best Fit

As recently as his last record – Love This Giant with St. Vincent – he produced a glorious, real masterpiece. So, strangely, this is just business as usual for a man who, at this stage, would find it impossible to make anything less than amazing. Long may he continue.

Northern Transmissions

Across 10 tracks, Byrne and company create chamber-like moments often intruded by electronics.

The Telegraph

American Utopia is another glittering offering from an old master – in itself, a very good reason to be cheerful.


American Utopia is epic, it’s sprawling, it’s filled with everything but the kitchen sink, but most of all, it’s filled with promise.


It’s a David Byrne album: cerebral, but with an irresistible beat; and exuberant, but in a way that is self-contained. And if America right now is something less than a utopia, Byrne is a force for positivity, exhorting us all to do better.

A.V. Club

A mixed bag of songs recorded with a variety of collaborators, American Utopia finds the nearly 66-year-old artist prodding at the stuff of modern life from a remote, but not unemotional, perch.

Consequence of Sound
It’s a worthy effort from a living legend, full of songs that are at least interesting and at times breathtaking.
There are moments of gloom and uncertainty, but ‘American Utopia’ turns the road to nowhere into the road to hope.
Loud and Quiet
With it’s broadly uplifting melodies, and quizzical lyrics, ‘American Utopia’ offers listeners a little escapism rather than biting satire or concrete solutions.
Rolling Stone

When it does, rhythms and racket ratcheting up accordingly, American Utopia ... boasts some of the most exciting music Byrne has made in years.


American Utopia is an album of beautiful and witty surfaces stretched over a sea of troubled waters, and if Byrne is rarely inclined to give direct answers to the questions he asks, it's obvious this isn't a joke, it's an ambitious work from an important American artist.

The Needle Drop

While not quite the grand artistic and social statement it was intended to be, American Utopia is brimming with forward-thinking pop and David Byrne's unique persona.

The 405

While American Utopia has its missteps it is, on the whole, a joyous record that only Byrne could make; an album that is inquisitive not just about the world of today but of music’s power to transport and uplift us.

Slant Magazine

While American Utopia isn't as vital a statement as it wants to be, it's the sound of one of pop music's most idiosyncratic voices continuing to follow his wayward muse.

American Songwriter

Repeated plays help the melodies cohere but considering the gap between 2004’s Grown Backwards and this often disjointed, intermittently engaging set, the long awaited venture from one of modern rock’s most eclectic and hardworking architects is disappointing.

In its best moments, the record is an uplifting antidote to troubled times. But that uplift comes at the expense of a deeper meaning, more distraction than catharsis.

Much like the United States itself right now, ‘American Utopia’ isn’t a complete paradise. Yet, there’s enough upbeat vibes on offer here to perhaps make you feel a little more optimistic about the future.

The Observer

Songs like Every Day Is a Miracle skew largely towards the bright side – a mature and thoughtful reaction to the despair felt by many in the wake of Trump’s presidency.  This being Byrne, one of pop’s most refreshing thinkers, it’s not as simple as chipper equanimity, however.


David Byrne’s first true solo album in 14 years is daring and open-hearted. The risks Byrne takes on these songs, however, too often feel clumsy or gaudy.

Under The Radar

The nature of experimental pioneers is that they will make some truly horrible mistakes, but the thing that keeps you invested as a listener is that there is still a chance that they'll strike gold eventually. Neither of these two extremities are true of American Utopia and, whilst there are flashes of intriguing and exciting music on here, these moments aren't enough to convince anyone listening that the project is a complete success.

The Independent
There’s always been an element of disinterested distance in David Byrne’s work, a sort of numbed passivity to life’s quirky minutiae, but it dominates this latest album.
The Guardian

Byrne is too instinctive a songwriter to ever totally miss the mark, and his melodic gifts certainly haven’t left him – but this album often tends towards a ghastly dystopia of kitsch.

Mar 11, 2018
this is getting criminally low scores
Mar 13, 2018
Original Rating: 65/100

American Utopia is just too cheesy and the problem mainly arises in the immature lyrics and the ideas proposed within them, the record is really well produced and there's a bunch of nice instrumental work in there too I only wish the lyrics could be more profound as David Byrne is capable

However, his vocal work is still resoundingly interesting and its his involving voice and peculiar affections which stop this record from ever becoming a bore, I liked 'Everybody's ... read more
Mar 11, 2018*
American Utopia is a beautifully produced album. There are many interesting and even beautiful instrumental arrangements found throughout the album. However, they never really coalesce into an album that feels like more than the sum of its parts. In addition, Byrne’s vocal arrangements are often beautiful, but they can occasionally veer into a bit too goofy territory. His lyrics on this release, too, are often a bit too corny to really enjoy. On the whole, however, American Utopia is an ... read more
Mar 20, 2018
Some of the lyrics veer just a bit too far into trying to be weird and end up a little gassy. Interesting musically, if not terribly new for DB. Everybody's Coming To My House is as good as any Talking Heads song. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Mar 16, 2018
As aging genius weirdos go, David Byrne has the slight edge over Morrissey after listening to American Utopia and comparing that with whatever that was that Morrissey released last year. Oddly enough, they both lead off with songs about dancing. Byrne, however, classically infuses his bizarro lyrics over synth tempo and a buffoonery of instruments that leave unexpected findings with each chorus, even though one should always expect the unexpected with DB.
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Track List
  1. I Dance Like This
  2. Gasoline and Dirty Sheets
  3. Every Day Is a Miracle
  4. Dog's Mind
  5. This Is That
  6. It's Not Dark Up Here
  7. Bullet
  8. Doing the Right Thing
  9. Everybody's Coming To My House
  10. Here
Contributions By
thisisabtlgrnd, patton, pouls, Z.Younk

Added on: January 8, 2018