They Might Be Giants John Henry

[Elektra; 1994]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: pop rock, quirky pop
Others: Fountains of Wayne, Camper van Beethoven, Ween

I was tempted to overrate this album, just to show 'em. In 1994, people who were in love with TMBG's "vintage" stuff, that is, They Might Be Giants, Lincoln, and Apollo 18, were shocked. The Johns had laid down their drum machine and picked up a whole band, complete with horns. The result? To some, the geeks had lost their geeky charm, but to others, myself included, they'd finally hit it big enough to realize their musical ambitions. Unshackled by costs, the band turns out some true classics, including "I Should Be Allowed to Think", which quotes Alan Ginsberg, and the incredible album closer "The End of the Tour". Catchiness hadn't left the boys, either; "Out of Jail" is one of their best. While the weak spots here ("Snail Shell", "Unrelated Thing") gave critics room to accuse the Johns of no longer 'trying', this album is just as big and rewarding as any of their other work, with the possible exception of the sublime Lincoln. A must.

1. Subliminal
2. Snail Shell
3. Sleeping in the Flowers
4. Unrelated Thing
5. AKA Driver
6. I Should Be Allowed to Think
7. Extra Savoir Faire
8. Why Must I Be Sad
9. Spy
10. O Do Not Forsake Me
11. No One Knows My Plan
12. Dirt Bike
13. Destination Moon
14. A Self Called Nowhere
15. Meet James Ensor
16. Thermostat
17. Window
18. Out of Jail
19. Stomp Box
20. The End of the Tour

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