Even though the band They Might be Giants is older then I am by a year, my own relationship with their music didn’t begin until the 90’s. Many children my age fell in love with their high energy and catchy melodies when I did, with Tiny Toon Adventures and the cartoon videos for “Particle Man” and “Istanbul”. Their silliness naturally evolved into children’s music and a successful relationship with Disney. They Might Be Giants went from playing music I enjoyed to music I would be able to enjoy with my children. While I appreciated them, particularly their stress on education through music, they had receded to the peripheral of my musical vision.
That is until much to my surprise, the release of Join Us, a new full length album targeting adults. Listening through Join Us it is clear that this is a seasoned alternative rock band; their 29 years as a band come through in clear direction, tight music, and well written songs. While the first few tracks are more fun then serious, the real silliness they are known for does not pick up till deeper into the album. Fans of the trademarked style of They Might Be Giants will love tracks such as “Cloisonne”, “The Lady and the Tiger”, and “Dog Walker”. If you are looking for a return to their adult alternative roots the album opens with catchy pop tune “Can’t Keep Johnny Down”. My own highlight of the album is “Celebration”, a funk influenced tune perfect for blasting at your next party. While I love the album, no tracks were quite a home run. I kept hoping the pop rock style of the first two tracks would culminate into a memorable song deeper into the album, but I was left wanting. While close to being a great album, Join Us does not quite go over the top.
It doesn’t happen very often that a band comes a long both you and your children can enjoy without being embarrassed, but They Might Be Giants fills this niche perfectly. Their silly antics might keep newcomers away, but for those of us who have been loving them for years this is a refreshing return to adult music. And while the songs have a fun and lighthearted feel, they also deal with serious adult themes of love and failed relationships. The next time you pile into the van with the kids and pop in a They Might Be Giants album, make it Join Us. Your kids will enjoy the energy, rhythm, and catchy melodies, but you won’t be embarrassed when caught humming mindlessly at your next PTA meeting.