They Might Be Giants - but they're probably tiny, tiny robots.
Some musicians trade on change and reinvention. Some simply get really, really good at the thing that they do. They Might Be Giants have spent 30 years on the latter course and it’s all to the good.
As a parent of small children I owe them plenty for making kid’s records that are way more than bearable when demanded on repeat (and they are, frequently). This isn’t one of their children’s records, but it’s a bit debateable whether there’s such a thing as a ‘grown-up’ TMBG record. True, the lyrics on this big musical dim sum tray (25 mostly short and sharp tunes) might often veer from their trademark cleverly expressed, oddly quotable whimsy into more disconcerting territory (not least on the stalker’s-eye-view of Call You Mom), and there’s the odd stab of slightly harsher sound. But it’s all set to the sort of ebullient, slightly uncool, tunefulness that has marked out everything they’ve done. That means even a four year old knows instantly that each one is a TMBG song and is happy to bounce around to it. Indeed, this record is so very much ‘them’ that songs like Circular Karate Chop are almost rewrites of stuff from their early record, and the slightly more contemplative Tesla could almost be an out-take from Here Comes Science.
If that sounds a bit like faint praise, then it’s probably because when a band has been doing what they do for so long, it’s a bit difficult to think of something else to say about them other than “thanks for making another good They Might Be Giants album”.