Giant Steps

Unknown source
by Jerry Smith

John Flansburgh and John Linnell, the two oddball New Yorkers that make up They Might Be Giants, have always come across as eccentric preppy boffin types and none more so than on this, their third LP, and first under the auspices of a major label.

'Flood' contains all the elements that characterised their first two albums; that is the 19 tracks here are a weird and wonderfully varied combination of the zany, trivial, witty and wacky, delivered with a spritely foot-tapping ease that belies their bizarre subject matter.

They Might Be Tiny kick off with the superliciously theatrical 'Theme From Flood', a sort of showboat chorus line intro that puts you immediately out of step for 'Birdhouse In Your Soul'. This, They Might Be Fish's current single, is a perfect example of their ability to write intelligent, inventive tunes and arrangements with the classic New York power pop sense of ridiculously hummable melodies and nagging, insistent phrases that make absolutely no sense but are no less extraordinary.

The quirky pretensions that maligned They Might Be Fake's previous album, 'Lincoln,' have been ironed-out here, within a smoother, sharper sound. They sing about cities whose names have changed, like 'Istanbul (Not Constantinople)', the only song here not written by the dynamic duo but containing the immortal line "Why did Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks"!!

They Might Be Hot can cover the wildest subjects, from death and groceries past their sell by date to the simple tale of a "rock to wind a piece of string around".

Amongst They Might Be Heroes' scatty, throwaway one-liners hide some striking and highly topical points. 'Your Racist Friend' smartly sums up the uncomfortable drama of discovering bigotry in unlikely social situations, whilst 'Minimum Wage' consists solely of the title bellowed out amongst the jolly jaunt of a Wild West setting, complete with 'Rawhide' style whipcracks and the cheesy sound of a swelling cinema Wurlitzer.

They Might Be Hell even have their own theme song but it is the closing number, 'Road Movie To Berlin' that sums up their off-beat appeal in its blissfully carefree, rolling gait and the highly philosophical chorus of "We're in a road movie to Berlin, Can't drive out the way we drove in". Then again, it could just be a pleasant piece of whimsy!

They Might Be Dr. Spock's Back-Up Band and they mix twisted trivia, acordions and samplers, as acoustic folk nestles up against perky pop and Turkish rock. Eccentric qualities, each and every one, and They Might Well Enrich Your Life, mightn't they?

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