There are so many superlatives you could use to describe the biting, alternative pop of Brooklyn legends They Might Be Giants, and perhaps the most apt would be “fun”. From ‘Lincoln’ to ‘Flood’ to to their children’s albums, even when satirical, even when dark, the overtones have always been joyous and novelty-esque – music you can take seriously but laugh along with, a screwball Zappa. Confirming this is the title of their latest album ‘I Like Fun’, released via Idlewild, and indie greats Lojinx in the UK!
Johns Flansburgh and Linnell haven’t lost a step at all, they’re still making music comparable to their classics. ‘I Like Fun’ follows the typical TMBG formula, getting packed full of masterfully snappy tunes, almost all of which are delightfully quirky. ‘All Time What’, whilst taking on the conventional subject matter of a beyond-help, crumbling relationship, hits home with a dexterous rock sound, with fuzz and a beautifully melodic chorus yelp of “all time what, things break apart”. It’s one of the best of the bunch, but if you want to talk chords and melodies, look no further than piano number ‘Mrs. Bluebeard’, bearing more compositional prowess than you can handle in a three-minute span.
While diatonic, some songs have bebop-esque chord changes, including ‘By the Time You Get This’, but dynamically, the most impressive song might actually be ‘The Bright Side’, which has such a distinct main melody you’d think it was a cover of an already-famous song of years past.
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Instrumentally sufficient, the album’s pallet of sounds is extraordinary. The weirdly low reed section of the title track creates one of the freshest earworms on the record, while being propped up by an army-esque snare beat, and the strange organ in the aforementioned ‘By the Time You Get This’ adds even more intrigue to an already catchy song. The production is also pretty juicy, with the grit of the guitar riff to ‘An Insult to the Fact Checkers’ making the track sound even more like an early Franz Ferdinand song.
The album’s themes have a bit of range, but it’ll mostly be key lyrics that stand out this time around. Including the opening line from introductory track ‘Let’s Get This Over With’ – “the drumbeat never changes tempo, it’s steady as a rock and like a rock it crushes you as it gets louder”. The best lyrical performance on ‘I Like Fun’ might actually be penultimate track ‘The Greatest’, just because of how funny it is – “they call me the greatest, because I’m not very good and they’re being sarcastic. I’m taking names but I’m not doing much with the names that I’m taking”.
‘I Like Fun’ is another fulfilling They Might Be Giants experience, one that diehard fans of the group will get a kick out of. They aren’t doing anything too different from what we’ve heard before, but their core sound is so loveable that it hardly matters.
‘I Like Fun’ is out 19th January via Idlewild and Lojinx