April 15, 2004

Test Spin: They Might Be Giants

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Since 1982, They Might Be Giants have been churning out their own special blend of pop, folk, polka, disco, and rock to eager fans and fanatics. Here again, existential lyrics and happy-go-lucky beats combine to form the trademark hilarity that sets The Giants apart. In “Am I Awake,” John Flansburgh’s apathetic voice melts over the words like margarine: “Am I awake?/ What time is it?/ When I get through this day/ Can someone tell me how/ And how much longer now/ Am I awake?/ The coffee’s cold/ Did I forget to drink it yet?/ Did I forget?” Flansburgh sings the melody to techno beats and punctual drum punches. The combination is catchy and excellent.

“Memo to Human Resources” exemplifies the absurdity so critical to The Giants’ act. It’s a scene out of Office Space, minus Jennifer Aniston: “I’m searching for some disbelief that I can still suspend/ But never mind the furthermore-the plea is self-defense again.” A crazy kind of jazz exudes from “Au Contraire”: “Jodie Foster held two pair/ Bach had three of a kind/ Gandhi said, ‘With my full house/ I will blow your mind.'” For “Ant,” a lullaby of sorts, John Linnell whispers and shouts accompanied by a tuba-led marching band. The Giants have been playing some version of the Beach Boys’ “Caroline, No” in concert since 2000. This live recording echoes the surfers with edgy whimsy. In short, They Might Be Giants serves up another brilliant taste of what’s to come.

Archived article by Daniela Galarza
Red Letter Daze Contributor