These are songs that cry out for the kind of cinematic sounds Eno brings to them, since he helps give them structure, momentum, and emotional weight, and his "sonic landscapes" do this precisely, following the contours of Simon's words and enhancing his meaning. And while Surprise glides along easily, thanks both to Eno's seamless work and the warmth of Simon's voice, it's an album meant to be listened to closely, and it pays back that effort handsomely. With repeated plays, Simon's songs don't seem as open-ended, and there's more to discover within Eno's production, particularly in how it plays off Simon's recurring themes of faith, aging, fatherhood, and getting by in George W.
Brian Eno is famously a man of many ideas. His 1994 diary A Year (With Swollen Appendices) is full of them. When not producing David Bowie, looking thoughtfully at women's bums or struggling to get his VCR to play a video called Big Bodacious Babes, he dreams up fantastical schemes: a pressure group obliging dog owners to clean up their pet's mess called the League Against Street Shit in England, or Lassie; greetings cards that celebrate how many days you've been alive; car horns that can be tuned by their owners to say "you first" or "I'm sorry".