Title: Join Us
Genre: Indie Rock
Review: If you look up the word “quirky” in your Oxford dictionary, you’ll find a picture of John Flansburgh and John Linnell of the long-standing alternative rock group They Might Be Giants. OK, OK, OK, so you won’t – but in a fair world that picture would be there. Since 1982 – almost a full-on 30 years – Flansburgh and Linnell have been the architects of out there skewed Grammy Award-winning rock with songs like “Birdhouse in Your Soul”, “Particle Man” and “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” – and, yes, I realize the latter was a cover, but the duo pretty much put their own stamp on it and made it their own. In recent years, however, Flansburgh and Linnell have turned their attention towards either penning movie or TV theme songs – like the cloying “Boss of Me” from the even more cloying Malcolm in the Middle – or writing and recording music for children, with such albums as Here Come the ABCs, Here Come the 123s and Here Comes Science. Well, the group has finally taken a break from writing kids’ songs and in the form of Join Us have created an album for the parents – their first “adult” record since 2007’s The Else.
With Join Us, you get 18 songs that veer wildly all over the map, but still carry They Might Be Giants’ stylistic hiccups and oddball lyrics. In short, what you get is yet another album from the group that could have been probably made with great ease near the start of its long and storied career, albeit one that doesn’t reach the delicious heights as their left-field MTV hit “Birdhouse in Your Soul”, though a few songs come close. Thus, Join Us isn’t probably going to yield anything that could be included on the next Greatest Hits-type record, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun, enjoyable and engaging. It just seems that Join Us – with its one-foot-in-the-grave image of a Hearse jacked up as a monster truck on the cover – is They Might Be Giants going through the motions and crafting kooky rock songs that are best enjoyed by grown men with an Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis. Join Us is the type of record, despite its titular invitation, that will be best enjoyed by the faithful, as opposed to those who are curious about the group and want a starting point to delve into.
Tracklist: 1. Can’t Keep Johnny Down; 2. Cloisonné; 3. Never Knew Love; 4. Old Pine Box; 5. Judy is Your Viet Nam; 6. You Probably Get that A Lot; 7. In Fact; 8. You Don’t Like Me; 9. 2028; 10. Let Your Hair Hang Down; 11. Three Might Be Duende; 12. When Will You Die?; 13. The Lady and the Tiger; 14. Protagonist.