To say that this Brooklyn duo has "matured" on this outing might seem oxymoronic, but there is a hint of songwriting sophistication on "Apollo 18." The two Johns (Linnell and Flansburgh) are aging after all, just like the rest of us, though you wouldn't think it possible that these perpetually adolescent studio pranksters could be affected by something as seemingly neutral as the passing time.
"Apollo 18" is the duo's first stint at self-producing on a major label, and the results are, as usual, far afield from everything else on the market. The album is slightly less manic, overcrowded and rigid than past efforts, with increased production and performance simplicity. Flansburgh and Linnell rely on their own instrumental chops here, rather than employing session players. adding to the album's charm. These nasal geeks certainly haven't lost their endearingly obnoxious sense of humor. The song "Fingertips" is actually 21 separate musical vignettes. When in shuffle mode, your CD player will automatically insert one of the brief, usually hilarious, vignettes into the regular-length material, adding a refreshing random element to the listening experience. Although tuth be told, listening to a They Might Be Giants' record is plenty refreshing as it is.