I have heard so much about They Might Be Giants over the years that I was bound to be disappointed by what they sound like. So count me disappointed by this record.
They Might Be Giants are Camper Van Beethoven if they were a duo who are (slightly) less inclined to play every genre they can think of, or every instrument they can think of.
This album is just full of ideas, and genres. They clearly think they can do anything and sometimes I believe them. The melodies are often quite strong, even when the styles shift from song to song. Given the overall sound of the record – more on that in a minute – it’s a testament to how strong those melodies are.
The lyrics are another story. I often struggle with the criticism that someone is “too clever” but here I think I agree. These lyrics sometimes feel more clever than funny, and sometimes they feel, to me, as if the listener is not quite in on the joke. I’m not sure I can quite articulate why they feel that way; maybe I’m just in the wrong mood.
The arrangements are a little too heavy on the accordion for me, and the whole mix is pretty muddled sounding, which is likely because of the nature of a recording like this. It could sound better.
So I find myself thinking “I wish these guys were more like Camper Van Beethoven” rather than enjoying the record. But much like Camper Van Beethoven, they could use a better lead singer. And I suspect that a better lead singer, or some better production, or both, would overcome my resistance.
All tracks written by They Might Be Giants.
- “Ana Ng” 3:23
- “Cowtown” 2:20
- “Lie Still, Little Bottle” 2:06
- “Purple Toupee” 2:40
- “Cage & Aquarium” 1:10
- “Where Your Eyes Don’t Go” 3:06
- “Piece of Dirt” 2:00
- “Mr. Me” 1:52
- “Pencil Rain” 2:42
- “The World’s Address” 2:24
- “I’ve Got a Match” 2:36
- “Santa’s Beard” 1:55
- “You’ll Miss Me” 1:53
- “They’ll Need a Crane” 2:33
- “Shoehorn with Teeth” 1:13
- “Stand on Your Own Head” 1:16
- “Snowball in Hell” 2:31
- “Kiss Me, Son of God” 1:52
- John Flansburgh – vocals, guitars, programming, trumpet, glockenspiel, melodica
- John Linnell – vocals, accordion, keyboards, autoharp, saxophones, clarinets, programming
- Dr. Kenneth Nolan – drums on track 3
- The Ordinaires – string arrangement on track 18