Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne became intrigued by the life of former first lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos and the woman who looked after her, Estrella Cumpas.
He enlisted DJ Fatboy Slim to put together Here Lies Love, a two-disc album based on Imelda's love of clubs and discos. Byrne brought on board a range of vocalists, among them Tori Amos, Cyndi Lauper, Roisin Murphy and Santigold, and overall, has achieved his trademark bizarreness. The artists come from vastly diverse musical backgrounds, but melded with dance beats and disco grooves here, manage to illustrate Marcos' and Cumpas' emotions.
The tracks are often awkward throwbacks to the 80s but, surprisingly, work for the most part. The songs follow the ebb and flow of the pair's lives, and at times it's unclear to whom a song refers; but fascinating arrangements make up for the confusion.
Highlights include Lauper on Eleven Days, all about the Marcos' tumultuous courtship; Sharon Jones, in her clear, jazzy voice, singing Dancing Together; and Martha Wainwright crooning the beautiful Rose of Tacloban.
Here Lies Love is the epitome of a concept album, but has something to offer everyone, even if you know little of the Marcos legend.
YP rating: 3/5