March 6, 2013

Test Spins: They Might Be Giants, Nanobots

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They might be giants, but the tracks on their new LP are very, very small. The band’s 16th studio album Nanobots is summed up in the eponymous second track that packs a sunny melody and crystal clear vocals into a 2:45 minute length with familiar hints of horn and thematically mechanical vocals. The 25 tracks of Nanobots, which sometimes run as short as under a minute, are brief, sweet and choppy.

Guitarist John Flansburgh began writing songs with vocalist and accordionist John Linnell as a high school student in the ’70s. After college, the duo formed their current group.  In its early years, the band briefly aired songs through “Dial-A-Song,” an answering service where fans could call to listen — over the phone — to the band’s music.

They Might Be Giants’ sound revolves around bursts of instrumentals behind the steady flow of lyrics, stitched together by upbeat, rolling percussion. “Black Ops” and “Circular Karate Chop” showcase the futuristic theme of the album, pausing the beat for synthesized melodies or garbled, underwater lyrics in powerful moments of silence.

In the sixth track, “Call You Mom,” the band unleashes its sense of humor (no doubt alarming their admiring female groupies) intonating,“I think I’d like to call you mom — cause you remind me of my mom.” The quirky appeal leaks into the album artwork, featuring collages by Sam Weber that distort stoic Renaissance faces so provocatively you might contort your own.

Between the broken-up sound and tongue-in-cheek humor, Nanobots is not steady background music, but will definitely satisfy your craving for eclectic, ’90s inspired jams.

Original Author: Sun Staff