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With their unique blend of catchy melodies and inscrutable lyrics, They Might Be Giants have lived a twenty-year frenzy of creative output, selling over three million albums and winning a Grammy in the process. The Spine is TMBG's new release, and has been heralded as their most rocking album ever.
They Might Be Giants: John Flansburgh, John Linnell.
Additional personnel: Dan Miller (guitar); Danny Wienkauf (bass instrument); Marty Beller (drums).
A new THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS release is somewhat akin to an issue of Mad Magazine with a bonus CD; wit, sarcasm, and satire abound, accompanied by all manner of sonic finery. Though Johns Flansburgh and Linnell are best known for the cartoonish, humor-filled aspect of their songs, there's often something deeper lurking below the surface. On THE SPINE, while there's as much quirky cleverness as on previous TMBG albums, there seems to be more of an emotional core to many of the tracks.
There's a palpable sense of disillusionment and dislocation at the heart of "Memo to Human Resources," brought home by a melancholy, Beatles-like structure. The post-New Wave power pop of "Broke in Two" strolls gingerly through the shards of a painful past. The protagonist of "I Can't Hide from My Mind" is engaged in the confusing process of finding his own center. Of course, there's plenty of jubilant absurdism in the grand Giants tradition, as well, but THE SPINE has more to offer those willing to listen closely for it.
Rolling Stone (p.116) - 3 stars out of 5 - "TMBG maintain their characteristic mix of playful absurdism and deeper melancholy in matured, two-minute marvels..."
Q (p.119) - 3 stars out of 5 - "It's packed with sweet, oft-piste songs..."
Uncut (p.97) - 3 stars out of 5 - "Lyrically, the territory they cover is still perversely eclectic..."
Magnet (p.108) - "The two Johns delight in offering a shiny surface replete with singalong hooks and crafty riffs, but their secret weapon has always been their depiction of common human fears and frailties."
CMJ (p.4) - "Hook-laden and rife with their patented clever lyrics, THE SPINE is classic They Might Be Giants: hard not to love, and will have everybody jumping."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.99) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[T]he tunes are agreeable enough, as is their unhinged wit."