I love They Might Be Giants but with every album they release I worry that it won't be very good. For every terrible album they've made there'll be a good one right after .....and even on the bad albums there's a great track or two. But wouldn't it be nice to have a really great all the way through They Might Be Giants LP? Here's hoping. Still brilliant live though.
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It's all turning around for They Might Be Giants. After years of being hated by every music publication under the sun it has been decided that they are...you know..pretty cool after all. Well we knew that all along but it's still a surprise to see this 15th album streaming on the NME and reviewed favourably in the Wire.
What has always frustrated me about They Might Be Giants is that they are indeed pretty great but seem to almost consciously ward off classic status by calling albums things like 'I Like Fun'. That coupled and a Robert Pollard-esque attitude to quality control plus the smugness that comes from knowing that they are just that bit cleverer than you. Still, between the lines they have written so many great songs that if I were to choose a 'best of' it would come to about five discs. At least.
'I Like Fun' ( I mean c'mon guys...please try) starts like an express train with a couple of John Linnell corkers to open things up. Now I have no real problems with John Flansburgh but when the earth comes crumbling down I want to be seen as being on the Linnell side of history. He's just such a good songwriter and one that is probably somewhat overlooked because of the duo's nerdy image. Here, his songwriting is continually inventive and, like watching an episode of Inside No9, you aren't exactly sure where it's going to go next. Flans showcases a few of his power pop bangers but on tracks like 'Mrs Bluebeard' Linnell produces mature twisty ballads that would be the envy of someone like Elvis Costello. I'm also glad some of their old quirkiness resurfaces on the title track and 'McCafferty's Bib' though these days on tracks like 'When the Light Comes On'they have more in common with Squeeze than the Residents.
The harsh truth is that they'll never be as good again as they were circa 'Lincoln' and 'Flood'. The guys are kind of smooth sailing right now but a They Might Be Giants album is always an interesting listen. I just wish they still had that spark again. Their best recent album 'The Else' saw the Dust Brothers drag them out of their comfort zone. There's nothing like that here, just a comfy They Might Be Giants album. No surprises, nothing life changing but y'know...good.
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- I Like Fun by They Might Be Giants
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