(Elektra) three and a half stars
The two Johns trim down to 13 tracks for their new disc, from their usual 18-20. Even so, "Factory Showroom" finds Messrs Flansburgh and Linnell in fine form, producing their most consistant platter since 1990's "Flood."
Dispensing with the song snippets that spiced earlier discs, every cut on "Showroom" is fully fleshed out. "S-E-X-X-Y" sounds like nothing TMBG has done before. But it sums up the duo's appeal in its use of influences that ought to clash but don't. The secret's in the songs. The Giants write good ones. Their genre experiments seldom fail because they're built on a solid base.
The groove returns on the silky soul of "Pet Name." "Till My Head Falls Off" and "Metal Detector" are pop-rock along the lines of earlier favorites such as "Ana Ng."
"James K. Polk" considers the expansionist policies of our 11th president, with a saw solo by Julian Koster of Chocolate, a band which formed in Tampa under the name Miss America. "I Can Hear You," recorded onto wax cylinder at Thomas Edison's laboratory, recites a list of '90s technological inanities (This car is protected by Viper).
And so on. "Factory Showroom," like the pair's five previous albums, is a fine, funny collection of good ideas and hum-along choruses. Quality, as they say, is job one.