wed 19/02/2020

CD: They Might Be Giants – Join Us | reviews, news & interviews

CD: They Might Be Giants – Join Us

CD: They Might Be Giants – Join Us

Wonderfully eclectic pop from this dynamic duo

On their 15th studio album, a return to wiggy adult songs after a hiatus making wiggy music for children, they are still having a great time larking about with language, dropping in oblique cultural references – Hieronymus Bosch here, Faustian pacts there – and generally having a cool time with a gallimaufry of musical genres. Among the 18 short stabs of pop there are cherishable close harmonies on “Old Pine Box”, syncopated dance rhythms and Bee Gee falsetto on “Celebration” and flecks of doowop on “Protagonist”.


The band who gave the world “Birdhouse in Your Soul” still majors in lyrics that are wonderful but often wilfully obtuse. "The Lady and the Tiger" opts for Beastie Boys hip-hop lingo and weirdest of all is the uncharacteristically sinister "Cloisonné". TMBG fans are already having heated online debates about whether the song, with its refrain of "keep your voice down" is about domestic abuse or organised crime.

But the twosome are at their best when they play it for laughs, spinning cartoonish tales of the unexpected. There’s a definite Flight of the Conchords vibe to their futuristic micro-epic “2082”, with the spooky couplet, “As the ancient one cranes his neck to look/ You see his hand has been replaced with a hook". If it is hard to work out the meanings of their songs, that never stops TMBG from being easy to love. They might have been written off by snarky observers as a novelty band, but their only genuine novelty is that they are still so good after so many years.

Watch the video for "Can't Keep Johnny Down"

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