Another off-topic post, but it's my blog and I'll do what I like!
I downloaded a few tracks off the new album The Else by They Might Be Giants yesterday. Hardly shocking, but I am very impressed again by their creativity and musical ability.
I was first turned on to them back at McGill, by a friend, the ever-hip all-round goddess, Becky Scott. The album was Flood and I was immediately taken by the witty, often hilarious lyrics and well crafted songs, great harmonies, etc. My St. Petersburg girlfriend was absolutely besotted with their cover of the old standard "Istanbul (Not Constantinople.)"
Now, the new album sounds very promising! I started out yesterday with the track "The Mesopotamians," which sounds to me like an homage to the Monkees' "Hey Hey We're the Monkees" - only considerably more literate. How often do you hear a pop song referring not only to Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal and Gilgamesh, but also to the Mohenjo-Daro civilisation of the Indus Valley? Not very often, dammit! Lest you think that this makes the song a boring reference-fest (like Billy Joel's boring "We Didn't Start the Fire,") I can assure you that it does not:
This is my last stick of gum
I'm going to cut it up so everybody else gets some
Except for Ashurbanipal who says my haircut makes me look like a Mohenjo-daroan"
What's not to love? Snappy lyrics, punchy guitars, swirling harmonies - it's got it all.
Another outstanding track is "Shadow Government." The same formula - and, in this case, "formula" is a winner.
TMBG remind me quite a bit of XTC, another band that showed that you can write extraordinary pop music (just think "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" or "The Mayor of Simpleton") with lyrics to make the audience think, laugh, cry, or all of the above, marrying it with flawless pop constructions.
Go get the album!