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CD of The Week

Week of 2/05/18

    They Might Be Giants - I Like Fun (Idlewild)

    Perhaps only Bob Pollard of Guided by Voices has been more prolific over the past 30+ years than They Might Be Giants. John Flansburgh and John Linnell now have 20 studio albums (depending on which ones you count) plus tons of Dial-a-Songs and B-sides under their belts. Their newest album I Like Fun adds to the canon with some of their timeliest songs ever.

    I Like Fun opens cheekily with "Let's Get This Over With," a traditionally jaunty Linnell piano pop tune. "All Time What" and "The Bright Side" give Flansburgh more opportunities to pay homage to his love of British Invasion power pop. The disco guitar-driven "Push Back the Hands of Time" is another highlight, opening with a classic Linnell lyric: "you would give up your right arm / to go back to when you had a right arm." Also it's always nice to hear both Johns overlapping and harmonizing on the same tracks, something they've gotten away from all too often.

    Even for a TMBG album there's a sense of doom and dread hanging over the lyrics on I Like Fun. This is the band who already have a fan favorite simply called "Dead" along with a litany of songs full of skulls and bodies. Is "Let's Get This Over With" about waiting for the end of the world? "By the Time You Get This" is a post-apocalyptic letter to the survivors of the future (if there are any?). And the record closes with "Last Wave," featuring a chorus of "we die alone we die afraid we live in terror we're naked and alone."

    The pulsing "Lake Monsters" might be an allegory for the hateful voices who crawled out of the shadows and into the voting booths in 2016 , which takes a turn late in the track into the high-energy end hook of "no hypnosis like a mass hypnosis because a mass hypnosis isn't happening."

    I Like Fun offers no new tricks or surprises, which is something TMBG has been able to pull off on many of their recent Dial-a-Songs and especially on 2013's wild Nanobots. But it's still another worthy addition to their massive discography, and if it's not enough new music from the Johns for you in 2018, they're concurrently releasing new Dial-a-Songs all year long as well.

    They Might Be Giants return to their favorite Philadelphia venue, The T.L.A., for a very sold out show on April 28th.

    Review by Joey O.

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