It’s quite a simple process these days in the music industry. Come out with an album, and than promote it by going on a full fledged tour. The album could be appealing to anybody, from crazed 13 year old girls to 40 year old life long fans. But you don’t see many things being put out for the kids these days, do you? I mean sure, you’ve got the less than average compilation Kidz Bops, as well as a Disney Soundtrack here and there. But why don’t regular artists come out with a kids album? The answer is quite simple, because of their ego’s being squandered, as well as their fan base being destroyed. But there are the bold few who have the guts to put out a kids album, regardless of what the fan base thinks.
Take They Might Be Giants for example. They’re veterans of the music scene, having been around since 1982. They’ve been putting out albums like rapid fire since 1986, and have not stopped. But until 2002, They Might Be Giants had released warped psychedelic/ alternative music that appealed to adults, not kids. So why not take a change in gear, and release an album just for them kiddies? That’s what TMBG did in 2002, releasing their kid friendly album, “No!” While it may seem odd for a band to do such a thing, especially 20 years into their career, TMBG does not disappoint in their first kids album.
They Might Be Giants is-
John Linnell-Vocals, Accordion
John Flansburgh-Vocals, Guitar
So, why exactly did TMBG release a kids album, especially in a time period where they had found recent success? One might be able to find a few answers to this ever peculiar question. First off, the band might have gotten bored with what they were doing with their sound, and wanted to experiment with a kids album. Another subject is the fan base. They might have wanted to add more people to the fan base, thus being children. TMBG has one of the most loyal fan bases ever, so no matter what kind of album they came out with, (well, except a death metal album) the fans will love them the same all the while.
The main thing that one will notice right off the bat about “No!” that is different than other TMBG albums, aside from it being a kids album, is the instrumental aspect. TMBG music can sometimes be complicated in terms of the music they play, but most of the time, the music is just distorted guitar riffs put together with an interesting accordion/keyboard part. “No!” finds new beginnings for TMBG, as they start to expand their variety of instruments used. Heavy synthesizers, violins, trumpets, cellos, clarinets, even voice effects all grace “No!”. These are all identifiable throughout the album, as they often collaborate with each other, making the songs sound advanced, but easy to listen to. TMBG also has to adjust their sound for this album to make it sound more appealing for the kids who listen to it. After all, kids would rather listen to violins and clarinets than heavily distorted guitar lines. TMBG really does a good job with adjusting their sound to make “No!” an album that people of all ages can enjoy.
While there may be more of an abundance of instruments used on “No!” than on other TMBG albums, the songs are more basic, once again benefiting the assumed younger listener. The easiest listens are the most childish one’s. Take I Am Not Your Broom for example. Only briefly in the song do they use an instrument, in this case an accordion, but for the rest of the song, there is singing. Where Do They Make Balloons is another good example of this. There is a very laid back, relaxed feel, as the vocals add the soothing sound that is apparent throughout the entire song. The keyboard and drumming takes care of the rest, both adding a sophisticated sound, almost mimicking that of jazz.
While this is a kids album, “No!” also has it’s more experimental songs, a thing that TMBG has always been infamous for. Robot Parade is a humorous song that offers a techno-esque keyboard part, as well as heavy voice effects to boot. Add some comical lyrics and Robot Parade is one of the most enjoyable songs on “No!”. The Edison Museum, though experimental, adds a darker touch to the mostly happy sounding “No!”. A haunting synth part caresses it throughout, while the vocals add the dark sound to The Edison Museum. The Edison Museum is a nice but darker change from the mostly light songs on “No!”.
On most TMBG albums, John and John will throw in a song about death here and there, and will drop a few curse words every once in awhile. But on “No!”, they make a major adjustment. Aside from not having any songs about death and no curse words, TMBG touches on different subjects than usual. The first track immediately shows the change in pace, with Fibber Island, a song about an island were the people that live there do everything differently then what normal human beings would do. In The Middle In The Middle In The Middle touches on how to cross the street without getting yourself killed. John Lee Supertaster introduces us to the idea that there are people that walk among us that have super powers. These superpowers make foods far more complicated to a super taster than to a normal human being. I Am Not Your Broom is about a disobedient broom who will not sweep a room for it’s master. It may seem like these songs drag down “No!”, but what they really do is give it a more different, more likeable edge.
So, who is “No!” appealing to? As I’ve said for the whole review, this is an album for the kids. But do not be fooled, for this can be enjoyed by anybody. Sure, it is more childish and fundamental music than what your probably used to, but it is still enjoyable. While “No!” may not have the pizzazz that most TMBG albums has, it can bring out the child inside of you.
Where Do They Make Balloons?
John Lee Supertaster
Clap Your Hands
Wake Up Call