2013 – Idlewild
Bizarre Brooklyn based band They Might Be Giants’ sixteenth studio album takes a much more rock turn than other TMBG standards like Lincoln or Flood. This is not to say, however, that the duo have suddenly become moody artistes, but just that their music has taken a small step away from the weird little jingles that came before. Whether that’s a step in the right or wrong direction I will leave for you, dear reader, to decide.
But I will say that the songs on Nanobots aren’t quite as catchy and quirky as the music I have become accustomed to even if it is more maturely written. There are some exceptions like Call Your Mom and Secret Steps, and the lyrics are as clever as always, but overall I found that the record coasted along without my ears pricking up for much in particular. Nothing on it was actively bad, it’s just that not too many tracks were all that interesting. It was more like groovy background music than a sit down and listen to me record.
One issue I do have is that the album is peppered with little semi-songs (not even a minute long) which pop up every now and then with no warning or explanation. A lot of them don’t even transition well which is pretty annoying. It almost feels as if the band just couldn’t be bothered writing an entire song and just recorded what little bits they had. For me it detracts from the overall flow and feeling of the album and is distracting from the rest of the music. I think the record might have been better if most of these tracks were either removed or handled in a different way.
Really I think that this album could just be that little bit tighter. While twenty-five tracks might seem like good value for money, it’s not if half of those tracks are only half-formed. I think that maybe it would have been better if Nanobots was only half the length it is and a second album was released with all of the extraneous material. It really just needs a little bit of editing work.
To sum up I would say that Nanobots is a very enjoyable record. It’s clever and witty with some good rocking bits and pieces, but the whole thing is kind of meandering and doesn’t hold the interest of the listener. It’s probably a good investment for fans of TMBG, but it wouldn’t be my pick to play for someone who’s never heard them before as it really isn’t their best work.
One of the more rocked up stand-out tracks from TMBG’s new album ‘Nanobots’.