The Else Review

artist: They Might Be Giants date: 10/03/2007 category: compact discs
They Might Be Giants: The Else
Release Date: July 10, 2007
Label: Idlewild/Zoe Records
Genres: Rock
Number Of Tracks: 13
From the fast-tempo opener "I'm Impressed" through the '60s pop edge of "The Mesopotamians," endearing hooks reel you in just far enough for the humorous, often oddball lyrics to bury you.
 Sound: 7.5
 Lyrics: 5
 Overall Impression: 7.5
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reviews (2) 5 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9.3
The Else Reviewed by: unregistered, on june 14, 2007
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: They Might be Giants or generaly a very poppy rocky band, commonly associated with nerd rock and stupidity at the same time. This album, though, was produced by The Dust Brothers, and they pushed it into a more loop based sound. This album is by far more serious than there other albums. Also, anybody familiar with They Might be Giants knows that there's one guy who makes par songs(Flansburgh), and one guy who makes excellent songs (Linell). But this time around, Flansburgh really showed what he had. His commonly nasily voice didn't show much, if at all, in these songs. Linell has improved himself, making his usually simple tunes much stronger and serious. You can still find the signature They Might be Giants sound in this album(Bee of the Bird of the Moth, The Mesopotamians,) of course. // 10

Lyrics: As mentioned above, it's not the signature They Might be Giants style, and same follows for the lyrics. The lyrics have turned a bit more serious, but not too serious. My faveorite lyrics on the track are, by far, "I'm Impressed," a song about how we're so loving of violence yet when the time comes for action we don't step up. The only song lyrics that don't really match the lyrics are the verses of "Shadow Government," but beside that it's a pretty nice fit. John Linell, of course, is still a fantastic singer with an absolutely amazing voice. John Flansburgh, though still not as good as Linell, struly improved for this and was able to really pull through to make a much better CD. // 8

Overall Impression: I personally can't think of another album like this, there only song I can think of that compares is "Man, It's So Loud in Here." The really stand out songs are "I'm Impressed"(a guitar-heavy track with strong electronic drum sounds) "Take Out the Trash" (an old feeling woman empowerment songs, much like "Hotel Detective") "Upside Down Frown (a soft song mixed with hard electronic drums)and "Bee of the Bird of the Moth" (which resembles They Might be Giants signature sound the most.)This is an album with a very unique sound, and I constantly have a new song stuck in my head every day. It is by far one of my faveorite albums, and when it comes out on CD I plan to buy it, beeing that right now it's only on iTunes so I had to borrow it from a friend. // 10

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overall: 4
The Else Reviewed by: thereverendsoup, on october 03, 2007
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: I'll go track by track on this, and assume you're at least somewhat familiar with the band's earlier work, because this album borrows pretty heavily from it. 01. I'm Impressed - repetitive, and kind of grating. But it'll still get stuck in your head for hours after listening to it. 02. Take Out The Trash - opens with handclaps, which is cool, but the song itself really sounds like it would be right at home in a pizza commercial or something. Lame. 03. Upside Down Frown - a slower, somewhat pleasant pop song. It sounds like something that would've been a B-side on "Flood." The production brings to mind their old days as a two-piece, but it still feels like something's missing. 04. Climbing The Walls - this is probably my favorite song on the album. Kinda has an "Apollo 18" feel. A darker melody than most of the others on the album, with a kinda dancey bridge. 05. Careful What You Pack - another slow song, reminiscent of "John Henry's" poppier bits. Definitely pretty enjoyable, but ultimately, just not that memorable. 06. The Cap'm - another track that sounds like something that got left off of "Flood." Seeing a pattern here? It's a pretty forgettable song, but nice when you're actually listening to it. 07. With The Dark - they Might Be Giants attempt a mini-rock opera, never staying in the same genre for very long, and ending long before it manages to live up to it's ambition, leaving you going, "what the hell did I just listen to?" Further listens will she'd no light on this query. 08. Shadow Government - one of TMBG's few (and possibly only) political songs. It sounds like TMBG, without reminding me too much of something they've already done before. 09. The Bee Of The Bird Of The Moth - a bit too goofy, even for TMBG. Musically, it sounds like a novelty song. Lyrically, it more or less IS a novelty song. This is one of the worst tracks on the album. 10. Withered Hope - really repetitive, forgettable, and monotonous. The buildup is more interesting to listen to, but it can't quite save the song. You'll also never want to hear the phrase "sad sack" again after you hear this song. 11. Contrecoup - a relationship song written in terms relating to brain surgery. It's catchy, and, while it reminds me a lot of "Flood," yet again, it adds to the formula sufficiently to stand on it's own. 12. Feign Amnesia - fast, poppy, and pretty fun. Doesn't really go anywhere, though. 13. The Mesopotamians - this is classic TMBG. Aside from some more awkward lyrics, it's catchy, bouncy, pop along the same lines as classics like "Meet James Ensor," and "Why Does the Sun Shine?" It seems to end far sooner than it should, too, like it was half-finished when they recorded it. So there you have it. A record that really doesn't tread a lot of new territory, and makes you wish it hadn't when it does. Overall, it's a pleasant enough listen, but with a back catalog as good as theirs, I was left disappointed by this album. It has a somewhat rushed feel to it, all around. Like things were left un-thought out, and recorded as-is in an unfinished state. Given some work, a lot of the bad, or forgettable songs probably could've been better, and the good songs could've stood out on par with some of their older material. Unfortunately, this is the album they released, and it's definitely not very good. // 5

Lyrics: Overall, the lyrics on this album feel rushed. They lack the subtlety and cleverness that made their earlier work so good. The jokes feel like jokes rather than just a natural part of the songs. They nearly send the band headfirst into the novelty band hell they've managed to avoid for so long. That's definitely the weakest thing about this album. For every good lyric, there's a stinker like, "'Cause you think that I'm high on pot/but I'm not." No song is without at least one cringe-worthy line. On a lot of it, I get the feeling they're having a hard time not writing for kids. Even the songs that deal with more serious subjects. Even in songs clearly aimed at adults, they'll still throw in obnoxious, sing-songy rhymes and it'll just come off "too clean," like there's an invisible line they're afraid to cross. // 2

Overall Impression: I love their old material. In fact, I've called these guys my favorite band for more than half of my life, and I still do. But this band is not the band I liked when I was a kid. Everything about this album just feels rushed. Like they wrote and recorded the songs just to get something new out there. Even the LP jacket is flimsy, and covered with a cheap gloss, and while it's not standard for the gatefold to be glued shut on one side for a single LP anymore, it's also not standard for it to hang open, and the artwork almost makes me think they spent more time taking goofy pictures than they did writing the songs. It's not without occasional flashes of the greatness that could've been, but overall, it's sunk by the awkward lyrics and lazy songwriting that was. // 5

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