They Might Be Giants No!

[Idlewild/Rounder; 2002]

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

The career of They Might Be Giants strikes me as similar to that of filmmaker
Robert Rodriguez. Certain personal parallels can be drawn: I am a huge Robert
Rodriguez fan; El Mariachi and Desperado are simply amazing movies. Equally,
TMBG albums like Flood, Severe Tire Damage, and Apollo 18 still
find consistent rotation in my stereo. Rodriguez, after several years, chose to
leave the Quentin Tarentino-esque filmmaking style to pursue the more
family-oriented adventure/comedy of Spy Kids. I have nothing against
Spy Kids
, it is a is a well made and well written movie, but I just can't
seem to get into it quite the way I did during that final fight sequence of
or the first two thirds of From Dusk Till Dawn. But,
comparing Spy Kids to such recent children's releases as The Country
or that Native American horse cartoon, and Spy Kids starts to
look even better. And to a child, Rodriguez seems to have the formula correctly
calculated, as it has become a modern children's favorite. Spy Kids is
not Rodriguez's best work, but the targeted audience is different, so to compare
Desperado to Spy Kids is, honestly, unjustified. Likewise, TMBG's
new "children's album," No!, is not the best work they have ever
produced. BUT, to a child, it is perhaps the closest LP to perfection.

I only wish that I had the opportunity to listen to No! during my
elementary days when, instead, I was jamming to the likes of Joe Scruggs and the
Aladdin soundtrack. Not only is the production quality outstanding, but
13 of 17 songs include flash-like animated interactive PC journeys through the
album that are nothing less than mesmerizing. Cartoon robots, dancing birds, and
potato chip eating mice parade around the screen to the discretion of the user
as they parallel the particular song being played. It is a sort of controlled
exploration into the minds of the Johns.

Aside from the incredible enhanced goodies, songs on No! are a
disappointment as they barely peak the two minute mark before abruptly ending.
While this is good for a child's attention span, I personally desired track
lengths that surpassed that of Weezer's Green Album. And, while the album
contains enough of TMBG's quirky lyrical content, such as a first person
encounter of a broom's refusal to sweep, there are no "Birdhouse in My
Soul"/"Particle Man"/"She's an Angel" classic anthems contained therein. No!
is likely to be an album of mediocre interest for the next few months, but in
the end, not many songs would make it onto a TMBG's Greatest Hits compilation.
Any diehard They Might Be Giants fan most likely already owns No! and
probably had most of the tracks long before the CD was released, but for those
only partially interested, money might be better spent on their previous record,
Mink Car.

1. Fibber Island
2. Four of Two
3. Robot Parade
4. No!
5. Where Do They Make Balloons?
6. In the Middle, In the Middle, In the Middle
7. Violin
8. John Lee Supertaster
9. The Edison Museum
10. The House at the Top of the Tree
11. Clap Your Hands
12. I Am Not a Grocery Bag
13. Wake Up Call
14. I Am a Grocery Bag
15. Lazyhead and Sleepybones
16. Bed Bed Bed
17. Sleepwalkers

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