Wednesday, June 06, 2007

They Might Be Giants - The Else

They Might Be Giants
The Else
Grade: B-

Okay, They Might Be Giants, it was really cool of you to release The Else two months early on iTunes and all that, but what is the deal with the production on this record? What immediately struck me when I put this record on was the weird vocal mix and how flat everything sounded. I'm not very interested in production value, but I had to mess around with my sound settings to get a mix that wasn't distractingly bad. This improved later in the album, but "I'm Impressed" was very hard to listen to.

I've always liked They Might Be Giants' sense of humor, and I feel like a lot of it has been lost over the years. Songs about failed romance on The Else don’t have the same wit & bite that they used to. It looks like TMBG won't ever release another "Lucky Ball & Chain." I've suspected it for a long time, but hearing "Take Out the Trash," which was lyrically bland and boring to a previously unseen high, confirmed it.

My other complaint is how little they sound like themselves. If it wasn't TMBG's unique vocal stylings, I wouldn't even realize it was them on some tracks because they're borrowed so heavily from other current indie acts in instrumentation. It's always nice to see band branch out rather than getting stuck in a rut, but they really seem to be staying away from wacky songwriting that earned them a loyal, nerdy following.

The whole album isn't bad, though. "Climbing the Walls" is a great song, especially for the graduation season. It is, admittedly, more juvenile than one would expect from TMBG at this stage in their career, but John Flansburgh's vocals are absolutely gripping and the overall rhythm of the song reminds me of a better time in TMBG's history.

I feel like a broken record for saying this about a good half of the records I've heard recently, but here goes: There are a lot of nice moments on the record, even if it isn't that good on a whole. The album ends on a high note with "The Mesopotamians," a song about a fictional rock band. Well, fictional band for now. In the next week, there will probably be no less than 8 TMBG cover bands by the same name. There is literally nothing I can complain about in this song because it's clever, hilarious and has all of the quirks expected from They Might Be Giants.

And since every TMBG record has one lyric that just makes you bust up whenever you hear it, here's mine: "Driving home from my meth lab, I realized something had changed," from "Shadow Government." You know, I can totally relate to funky shit going down on the way home from the lab. Although with me it's the bio lab… Because I'm a nerd.

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(April Wright)



Anonymous David said...

Aw, that review makes me sad! Well-written but a sad report.
Then again, I actually really liked The Spine, so maybe it'll be up my alley.

10:55 AM  
Blogger April said...

I liked this one a little more than the Spine. On a whole, they're about equal, but The Else has more outstanding individual tracks, I think.

12:25 PM  

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