I Like Fun by They Might Be Giants – Album Review
by Victoria Holdsworth
This Brooklyn duo certainly live up to the Beastie Boys’ moniker of ‘No Sleep ‘til…’ With a career spanning over 33 years, They Might Be Giants have always danced to the beat of their own drum, and forged a remarkably unique back catalogue. Their latest offering is true to form.
I Like Fun will not disappoint long-term fans, and whilst there are some heavy issues addressed on this album, they’re immersed in such a harmonious production it somehow seems to make the horrors of the world more manageable.
The opening track, ‘Let’s Get This Over With’ perfectly captures TMBG’s knack for sounding unforced and bracingly unpretentious. It is catchy as hell, and a perfect welcome back – like greeting old friends.
‘I Left My Body’ revisits some Beach Boys influences, and to their credit, They Might Be Giants are probably one of the only bands I know that can fit the word cryptographically into a song.
This album twists and turns from track to track, with ‘All Time What’ being a contender for a possible anthem to match ‘Birdhouse in Your Soul’. The use of instrumental punctuation in this tune is a delight.
‘By The Time You Get This’ and ‘The Greatest’ are more like prose set to music. The first is a prophetic goodbye to what is left of the world and society, the latter a haunting aura which is minimally progressive to deliver the messages contained within the lyrics.
One thing you can’t ever accuse They Might Be Giants of being is predictable. This album has inescapable melodies, but the form in which they come is constantly surprising. ‘Mrs. Bluebeard’ and ‘McCafferty’s Bib’ which are prime examples: both are quirky and carefully selected little tone breakers.
TMBG are not just satisfied in throwing you a few curve balls though; they throw the whole bucket of them at you. ‘An Insult To Fact Checkers’ is an outstanding track, and possibly the standout on the album. It demonstrates some precise, gritty guitar flourishes against a Munsters theme tune, blasted with an array of contrasting, stark, military drum beats.
I don’t think anybody ever truly encapsulated the zeitgeist of geek-pop-rock nerdiness better than They Might Be Giants.
The title track is Vivian Stanshall-esque (never a bad thing) and it perfectly blends satirical lyrics and avant-garde elements, then switches around to an electronica retro disco feel. ‘Push Back The Hands,’ is poignant and poetic and pulls you in to listen further.
‘The Bright Side’ is certain to make it on to my summer playlist, its bouncing force and feel-good factor are positively infectious. There is even a little time for some electro funk in ‘Lake Monsters.’ Whilst its words issue stark warnings against world leaders, it’s the instantly recognisable mood and swing that captures the ear.
‘Last Wave’ is the album’s crowning glory. Again the subject matter is of a darker nature, but the differing, alternate, layers of sound weaving through this final song contains some complementary smooth horns and trumpet fanfares which lift it and make it a stand out track.
The whole album is very together, very hip, and technically excellent. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the broadminded listener it is incredible escapist music.