By David Beech
March 8, 2013
Massachusetts-born, Brooklyn-raised They Might Be Giants have been making their own bizarre blend of comedic college rock since the early 1980s. Once just a duo with a drum machine that recorded their music on an answer phone, TMBG have since become a fully-fledged band with a prolific back catalogue that spans TV theme songs to educational music for children. Now, over 30 years since their début, the band are releasing album number 16, Nanobots.
The first track on the album is, in typical TMBG humour, ‘You’re On Fire’. The track features some nice jangly guitars and has an almost brit-pop quality to it; somewhat atypical for the band even if the humour is still present. Track two is titular track ‘Nanobots’ and is right back in familiar realms. A brass section follows the vocal pattern which in turn features some nice layering later on.
Track five is ‘Circular Karate Chop’ and features the usual childish but ultimately irresistible charm we’ve come to expect from the band that did the theme tune to Malcolm in the Middle. There’s a distinct twee aesthetic to TMBG that might deter those unfamiliar with the bands earlier material, but for fans of bands such as Atom and His Package and Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer that have yet to check Giants out, Nanobots is a perfect entry album.
’9 Secret Steps’ sees the band sounding particularly twee, and features optimistic keys that tread in to Bishop Allen territory as it romps towards its climax quickly. There are a whopping 25 songs featured across the 45 minutes this album spans. However not all of them you can consider songs as such. The ten second long ‘Destroy the Past’ is definitely musical, and it has lyrics, but given it’s insanely short run time it barely registers as a separate entity before it’s finished and on to the next song.
There are a lot of people who will be put off by They Might Be Giants overt silliness. But that’s what their fans have come to love about them. They’re just big kids with bigger hearts, not to mention a sense of humour that hasn’t wavered in the last thirty years. Even though this album will have it’s detractors, there’s something great about an album which doesn’t take itself seriously; it wears it’s silliness on it’s sleeve. Sure, it’s not breaking any boundaries, but it is cracking smiles.