Review Summary: Three might certainly be duende.
Well isn't this just fantastic. After almost 5 years of releasing almost constant Childrens albums, they are finally back to making their crazy pop music(You know, except for "2082" which sounds like something off of "Here Comes Science"). And while some of their most recent albums have been kind of embarrassing, (2004's The Spine anyone") This record doesn't disappoint. While there are some forgettable tunes on here, They at least have pleasant melodies on EVERY track.
The album starts out with the lead single "Can't Keep Johnny Down", it's brilliant, it gets everyone off on a familiar foot, it has everything you can want from a TMBG song. It's got the crazy twirling keyboard melody, bridges with distorted guitar, a nice melodic lead, and last but not least A ***ING ACCORDIAN. The album follows alot in this vein. You know, nothing too crazy, nothing too weird. They're getting old now, right" They can't just start blowing people's minds, they might break a hip. Then, They Might be Cripples.
Of course I was lying. This album is full of songs that will seem bizarre to the average radio listener. And they're awesome, and perhaps the most bizarre, most brilliant song on this record is Cloisonné. It has Linnel blowing out a very jointed pattern on a clarinet, the percussion is almost non-existent, and when it's there it works in contrast to the rest of the song, giving a weird vibe to it. And to top it off, it ends in a Avant-Garde cluster*** of Clarinet trilling, non-scale-soloing guitar, and filled drums. And then of course it transitions to "Let Your Hair Hang Down". While not bad by any means, it is a pretty by-the-numbers pop song. It's brilliant if you think about it, but I digress.
The album gets pretty straightforward after that. Songs like "Let Your Hair Hang Down" and "When Will You Die" are pretty standard TMBG fare, even if the second is one of the best TMBG rock songs ever recorded. The middle of the record feels really airy. It's a good thing that even though some of the songs here are forgettable and drab that they are all really short, mostly in the 2-3 minute range. So even if there is something here that doesn't strike your fancy, (Hey maybe you like snooty party songs like "Celebration") it's sure to be over shortly.
Luckily the album picks up again on the track "The Lady and the Tiger." I actually don't know what the *** is going on in this song, but it is hugely entertaining, and that's what I am all about. Just don't tell the brass about this song, cause I'm pretty sure that the Johns are keeping some hostage. "Spoiler Alert" sounds like it can be on one of their earlier albums, with the way that Linnell and Flansburgh work in conjunction with each other's vocals. Plus I think it's about a midget truck driver. It's just wacky. And I like bananas. Bananas are good. But "Dog Walker" is something straight off of their self-titled debut, it's got voice effects, bizarre distortion with echo. And a funk beat.
You know, I love these guys. Whenever they release an album I literally jump up and down ecstatically, and this album was no exception. Although the people at the record store thought I was a madman who came to take all of their Sonata Arctica records. And you know, they were mostly right, but I just came for the pink monster truck. But I'll be back for the cheesy power metal later.