They Might Be Giants: Nanobots
Okay, I admit it. My working knowledge of They Might Be Giants is mostly limited to 'Birdhouse In Your Soul' and 'Istanbul not Constantinople'. Furthermore, when this album landed on my desk and I saw it had 25 tracks on it, I blanched slightly and double checked this wasn't a deluxe greatest hits package. On further inspection I saw it was in fact "a musical landscape of black ops, microscopic robots, insect hospitals and karate chops - as well as a sprinkling of mini ruminations clocking in at well under the one-minute mark..." That cleared that up then.
Formed in 1982, performing indie rock to alt. to more recently children's music and TV theme tunes, the history of the band doesn't give me many clues either. In my head they live in the same eclectic tree house as Presidents of the USA, the Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five and Smash Mouth, making songs that marry a stream of consciousness with a tune they like. This album does nothing to dispel that notion, thank God. 'You're On Fire' opens this epic and muses on the fact that, well, your head is on fire (and your car is getting towed). They Might Be Giants marry simple, almost childish melodies with the sort of lyrics both I and my children love. 'Lost My Mind' tickles them and I consider adopting it as this month's personal anthem. Everyone has an anthem, don't they?
Moving on, 'Tesla' is a pulp fiction detective story filmed in black and white, and 'Sleep' which is short, sweet and could go on much longer. 'Stone Cold Coup D'Etat' is such a cheerful song that you don't realise how bleak many of the lyrics are, and 'Destroy the Past' is one line and some punk guitars. 'Hive Mind', 'Decision Makers', 'Nouns' and 'There' last less than ninety seconds in total before we are thrown into the Hendrix-esque 'Insect Hospital'. There are indie guitars, the odd bit of doo woping, some songs sound country tinged, other may have drawn inspiration from a nursery rhyme via the the Beatles. My biggest fear was this would be an album of half finished ideas, but whether a song lasts one minute or four it feels complete. 'The Darlings of Lumberland' is similar to how I imagine the Beastie Boys chilled out and playing snake charming numbers in a sweaty souks would sound, and who doesn't imagine that?... Look, I am doing my best here but really, you need to go and listen to it yourself.
This has so many great tracks and mini bits and pieces that would spice up any fabulous mixtape.