They Might Be Giants: The Else


DIY/Indie/Alternative godfathers They Might Be Giants are back with their newest offering The Else.  TMBG have been prolific artists, writing tunes all over the map (Theme songs for TV, Children’s Records, Co-Headlining a bill with Robots) during their 25 years.  Having pre-empted the blog and myspace distribution of music with their Dial-A-Song program in the 80’s and with their podcasts currently being heavily downloaded, one would think that with this release, TMBG would embrace the current catchy single climate in music.  But The Else is a bit different, playing more as a cohesive whole than a pieced together album.  Working with some of the best producers in the industry (The Dust Brothers, Patrick Dillet) TMBG continue their white-boy-geek-accordion-rock style lyrics in the nonsensical (“Bee of the Bird of the Moth”) or ironic (“I’m Impressed”) realms and splash in some shiny horns for flava’.  A few tracks cast a dour shadow, changing the pace like “Careful What You Pack” and “Withered Hope” which unfortunately ends up a mess.  It contains the best beats and popping horns found on the album, but drowns beneath the two John’s oddly placed downer lyrics and morose singing style.  “With The Dark” is a musical and lyrical hodgepodge longtime fans will dig in the vein of “Fingertips” from Apollo 18 only shorter.  There is also the Nirvana “On a Plain” variant “Climbing the Walls” which cop’s Kurt’s chords, but leaves the distortion and heroin behind.

The weird feeling after listening to The Else is that no song truly stands out as that one catchy single, something TMBG have been doing well for years, the closest they come is on the quirky pop/rock freak-out “The Cap’m”, and “Feign Amnesia” a breezy Byrds inspired work through.  Also the paranoia pop punk of “The Shadow Government” may get some love in the current cultural climate, but when it is over The Else has left you with a total listening experience, different then TMBG past offerings but still satisfying.

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