They Might Be Giants - Nanobots (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
WEIRD, wonderful, annoying and catchy… what better way to describe the strange brew that is They Might Be Giants’ latest album, Nanobots.
The 16th album of their illustrious career offers up 45 minutes of entertainment that really does deliver contrasting feelings and emotions.
When concentrating on the same brand of quirky pop that helped shoot them to global prominence with tracks like Birdhouse In My Soul they are immensely fun. But diversions into more experimental territory feel unnecessary and self-indulgent.
For the most part, though, this belongs in the former category. Opening track You’re On Fire is a lively starting point that is shot through with horns and robust melodies, while title track Nanobots continues the momentum with one of the most sing-along offerings on the LP. It sends you giddy with its breezy attitude.
Another highlight, Black Ops, follows and showcases the band’s ability to mix effortlessly pleasing melodies with something more serious (and in this case political).
More good work follows with Lost My Mind and Circular Karate Chop, which combines trademark kooky lyricism with something more akin to Beach Boys harmonising.
Their sense of humour, meanwhile, is evident on Call You Mom, a story about a date that bears uncanny similarities to a mother! While Stone Cold Coup D’Etat is a power pop gem and, by contrast, Sometimes A Lonely Way a damn fine ballad. Secret Steps, meanwhile, has a classic rock ‘n’ roll vibe about it akin to Buddy Holly.
In fact, it’s not really until track 13 and Hive Mind that the album even remotely puts a foot wrong. But thereafter, things get hit and miss and experimental. Some ‘songs’ clock in at less than 10 seconds. While on a track like There, it’s a set of female vocals that take centre stage for all of about 20 seconds.
That’s not to say it’s not worth continuing past that point. Insect Hospital, for all its brevity, drops one of the best guitar workouts on the LP (a classic rock indulgence akin to Hendrix), while there’s more quirk pop charm to be found on Too Tall Girl.
But had they maintained the quality of the first half of the album throughout, or even stripped away the short interludes, then we may really have been talking about a classic.
Download picks: You’re On Fire, Black Ops, Nanobots, Too Tall Girl, Insect Hopsital, Lost My Mind, Stone Cold Coup D’Etat, Sometimes A Lonely Way, Secret Steps