Album review: They Might Be Giants - Nanobots
18:00 14 November 2013
Leftfield indie stalwarts pull another clutch of vibrant, accessible tunes from their bottomless creative sack.
This is the band’s 16th studio album as they enter their fourth decade - in success terms, they are surely sleeping giants - yet Nanobots finds them with an itchy creative trigger finger.
Of the 25 tracks here, nine clock in at well under a minute and most of those are half-formed ideas at best.
Brushing them aside, there’s still plenty of jerky, off-kilter alt-pop nuggets to get excited about, served with the heavy dose of wit that’s kept fans returning to their work year on year.
Opener You’re On Fire bounces along on a light, radio-friendly guitar motif ably assisted by trumpet parps and backing singers belting out “combustible head!”
The wry Nanobots and Black Ops both offer unsettling future visions sung in John Flansburgh’s trademark chirpy, slightly nasal tone.
They run through a chunk of guitar styles, from the throwaway Blues Brothers-esque rock’n’roll caper Call You Mom to the jangly guitar and classic harmonies of Stone Cold Coup D’Etat.
Replicant, another first-person sci-fi tale, has a repurposed lounge-jazz feel, as if messed with by Mark Oliver ‘Eels’ Everett, while Tesla, about the only ballad, is a pretty, considered highlight alongside Icky’s twee social awkwardness.
Some quality control to exorcise the, frankly unwelcome, ditties, and Nanobots’ actual songs would sound even stronger and braver. But, this is a witty and energetic set nonetheless.