Ahead by a good ten years, I'd say. The fact is, that no matter how you come to it, if you get a chance to be exposed to Latin rhythm and culture, it is worth it from my POV. As a Mexicana, I am honored that Byrne would so faithfully reproduce the sounds I loved when I lived in "Nueva Yor", as I call it.
The lyrics are the real draw here. Witty and incisive, they play off the exotic tapestry of sound. I cannot begin to mention all the great ones, but here are a few:
"My bed is flyin' out the window, I'm pullin' up my covers to the rain. And down below cats are howlin', it's a family affair." (from Independence Day) "This compass points in two directions, and North and South are both the same." (same) "Maybe you'll pray, but God isn't home, and there's no guarantee that justice be done" (Dirty Old Town) "Like a pizza in the rain, no one wants to take you home" (Loco de Amor) "Messin' round like monkeys and apes... they turned 'em loose, they turned into people" (Good and Evil)
And on it goes. For someone like me, a fan of Steely Dan, Elvis Costello, and Bob Dylan, this is a feast. But to combine with Español and back it with a Latin beat (take your pick: salsa, samba, rumba, charanga, to name a few) is irresistable. I've loved this album ever since it was released in 1989. Not a bad cut on it, but the afforementioned, plus "Rose Tattoo", "Make Believe Mambo", "Don't Want to Be Part of Your World", and "Lie to Me" also make my list of favorites here.
Please do NOT judge this by any preconceived notions, not let others' negative reactions influence you. This is the thinking man's approach to cultural synthesis, and as such, is an unqualified TRIUMPH.