Review: They Might Be Giants' 'I Like Fun' is tunefully zany

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Posted: Jan 17, 2018 2:33 PM
Review: They Might Be Giants' 'I Like Fun' is tunefully zany

They Might Be Giants, "I Like Fun" (Idlewild Recordings)

They Might Be Giants have a spring in their step on "I Like Fun," their 20th studio album. As is often the case, their gait is of the kind endorsed by Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks, with a special dispensation here from the Dead Poets Society.

Yes, death becomes TMBG and there's a funereal bouquet of approaches to inevitable expiry among the 15 tracks, including "Mrs. Bluebeard," ''I Left My Body" and the dark-until-it's-goofy "Last Wave."

"Let's Get This Over With" relies on a foundation of piano and drums and is one their catchiest songs in a career densely populated with them. It makes for a fantastic opener and one of its maxims is that "Even when you're out of work/you still have a job to do."

"By the Time You Get This" is an all-too-optimistic prediction of the future — no barking dogs, hatred or lies — made in 937, "the dark and troubled past." Not exactly Nostradamus, but consider that the Frenchman had a 600-year advantage. The Motown-style telegraph guitar across "Push Back the Hands of Time" sounds almost incongruous in a tune that's otherwise less agitated than its intro. "Almost incongruous" could be a TMBG trademark and is one of the secret ingredients in their special sauce.

Instrumental support from their live band (lead guitar, drums and bass) supplements the duo's musicality. Though the sound effects may be more conventional than on their early albums, the two Johns, Flansburgh and Linnell, continue to be as effective as ever.

Recorded in the same Manhattan location as "Flood," their 1990 milestone, "I Like Fun" demonstrates the band's inimitable talent for earworm melodies and zany subject matter. Now go and gather those rosebuds.