They Might Be Giants: Glean

They Might Be Giants remind us in spirit of Chumbawumba, who could write mindlessly catchy pop tunes if they so wanted: we heard that the Chumbas, a political group, wrote their biggest hit Tubthumping just to prove they could. Chumbawumba were political but They Might Be Giants are simply intellectual, and churn out clever tunes with catchy hooks just because they can.
They’re famous for their answering machine songs: they recorded a song on an answering machine, and then advertised the phone number in New York papers such as The Village Voice, getting people to call. They got a record deal from this.
Their biggest hit was Birdhouse in Your Soul. Recently, they’ve resurrected the answering machine songs, but this time on YouTube.
So far so good but then comes the bit where we have to tell you if the album is worth getting. Caveat emptor, dear reader.
The songs are clever and crisp. With titles like Underwater Woman, I Can Help The Next In Line and Madam I Challenge You To A Dual, you get the drift.
Next in Line is about never being helped in line: “I can help the next in line / I don’t think I like your tone” while Duel is as its title suggests: “I am a man of honour / I am mortified / By your litany of slurs”.
The musical range is impressive: blues, rock, funk, disco, Latin America.
If you want intellectually stimulating music where the lyrics are crucial, it’s perfect. If you want something to hum to, it’s perhaps less so, and if you like your pop easy to digest it’s perhaps not for you.
There might be a hit on here though: Erase or Good To Be Alive, the latter possibly also turning up in television trailers as background music.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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