They Might Be Giants
Nanobots


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Beebe USER (126 Reviews)
March 10th, 2013 | 13 replies | 4,773 views


Release Date: 03/05/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Further reinforcing a solid return to adult-oriented music from children’s music made by their previous outing.

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

As a group with a love for the experimental, They Might Be Giants have built up a reputation of being anything but predictable. After using the quirky tone and zany nature of their bizarre alt rock music’s personality to work its playful wonders in the direction of children’s music, They Might Be Giants resumed making music for a more mature audience on their album Join Us, but that in no way meant they had lost their comedic qualities and knack for the unconventional and strange. But being as unpredictable as they are, fans had no reason to be sure that They Might Be Giants would stick with a return to their old sound for a second album, which in this case is the quite varied Nanobots.

While Join Us had an almost theatrical level of weirdness to it and was quoted by the group as an attempt to make “a really insane record”, its successor Nanobots seems to be an attempt to stay the return-to-roots course set by Join Us, but to contrast that album’s craziness with an abundance of more toned down and low-key moments, while simultaneously besting it as the group’s most diverse album in years in terms of characteristics and moods.

Reminiscent of the group’s earliest works in how out of its 25 tracks, a fifth of the songs barely reach 10 – 15 seconds, and another fifth are several seconds short of a minute, Nanobots seems to be an album of songs that aim to quickly deliver their hooks and don’t feel the need to concentrate much at all on repeating them until they stick. What’s impressive about tracks like “Hive Mind” and “There” is that despite not being even 10 seconds in length, they’re quite memorable and distinct for what they are, and warrant returning listens in that respect.

Though a constant issue with these very short tracks is how they are ordered on the album. This isn’t like the numerous five second-long parts of their album Apollo 18’s “Fingertips” composition, because while the tracks were short, they had smooth transitions into one another and maintained a steady flow throughout. The short songs here on the other hand, can frequently be far too abrupt in how they’re placed right after one another, and this breaks focus from the album’s flow all too often. These are some of the shortest tracks They Might Be Giants’ have composed in a long time, and the album would play in a far less meandering manner if the longer tracks were ordered in before and after each of these shorter songs. It’s not in They Might Be Giants’ nature to be conventional like that, but this is a case of how that can sometimes hurt an album.

However, aside from that flaw, Nanobots has impressively varied traits. While there’s moments of straight up gags about some of the shortest tracks, the humor here overall has more of a dry wit to it than is typical for They Might Be Giants, on tracks such as “Circular Karate Chop” especially. While They Might Be Giants are the last band known for making tear-jerkers, the heart-wrenching lyricism of “Call You Mom”, and the elegant piano of “Sometimes the Lonely Way” shows that this band can effortlessly juggle being funny, and tackling topics of a completely opposite attitude within the same album, and all without causing conflict.

The usual standard instruments are used in crafty ways here, - as they always are by the group - and while the instrumentation of elements such as the saxophone and flute aren’t used here nearly as commonly or as bombastically as they were on Join Us, it feels as though this was done intentionally to take things down a notch, as a means to achieve a jazzy vibe; with orchestral elements that are more down to earth as opposed to up in the rafters.

In conclusion, though it may have arrangement flaws, Nanobots is a fine example of how an artist can successfully continue in a return-to-roots course while still offering more than its fair share of surprises, and it’s not surprising at all that They Might Be Giants would be the ones to provide an album that's proof of this.



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user ratings (17)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
CrossAmber (4.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
breakingthefragile
March 10th 2013



2954 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Maybe the track order complaint is just me, but I found it be pretty bothersome.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2013



9823 Comments


Good review, I'd pos if I could. It's kinda funny, I was actually going to review this on Alt Review if I was still on there :P

breakingthefragile
March 10th 2013



2954 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man, I'm pretty satisfied with how this turned out.

EDIT: Just realized, 90th review! WOOOOOO
I got something special planned for my 100th review, and I think it's pretty obvious
what it's going to be.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2013



9823 Comments


The one I just posted is my 91st : D

I know EXACTLY what I'm reviewing for my 100th... it will be quite the epic occasion

joshieboy12345
March 10th 2013



5370 Comments


What I would like to know is. Were they giants?

breakingthefragile
March 10th 2013



2954 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@joshieboy12345 What we do know is that it's a strong possibility, but we can't be certain of anything.

Asdfp277
March 10th 2013



1029 Comments


I just came here to say that the cover of the album doesn't look like dick. Thanks.

breakingthefragile
March 10th 2013



2954 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ur welcum

joshieboy12345
March 11th 2013



5370 Comments


I see what you did there.

omnipanzer
March 11th 2013



21442 Comments


They were just here back on the second. A bunch of my buddies went and said they were as insane as ever. Can't wait to give this a spin.

Digging: The Ettes - Shake the Dust

MiniatureHorse
March 12th 2013



908 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review. Pos'd

breakingthefragile
March 12th 2013



2954 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks. The pos option is gone, but it's the thought that counts.

joshieboy12345
March 13th 2013



5370 Comments


Yeah l went to pos this, and l couldn't.



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