They Might Be Giants - Nanobots Vinyl LP
They Might Be Giants Nanobots Vinyl LP
There aren’t a lot of bands who can open a album with the line “Hi, Your head is on fire” and have it sound not only cool, but for the said lyric to be one of the album’s less ostentatious declarations. With Nanobots - They Might Be Giants’ 16th studio album - the band offers up a musical landscape of black ops, microscopic robots, insect hospitals, and karate chops - as well as a sprinkling of mini-ruminations clocking in at well under the one-minute mark.
For a group that has made a career out of crafting unforgettable melodies while deftly illuminating the odd, Nanobots is a remarkable achievement - 25 tracks that zig and zag in a myriad of new directions including the very adult topics of melancholy and alienation, while showcasing the band’s expert musicianship and undeniable skill at crafting perfect pop productions.
Formed in 1982, They Might Be Giants are themselves giants of a sort in the pantheon of alternative-indie-college rock (or whatever you wanna call it). Emerging out of NYC’s East Village performance scene with a singular take on art-pop, the dynamic duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell would break big at the dawn of the 1990’s with their platinum LP Flood, one of the most beloved “alternative rock” albums of all time.
In the following years the band would go on to dip their creative toes in a variety of different pools - not only releasing a slew of excellent albums, but also making music for television and films, snagging a couple of Grammy awards, and serving as the subject for an acclaimed documentary about their career (Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns).
Over the course of three decades they’ve also managed to engender a coterie of intensely devoted (some might even say obsessive) fans who are prone to following the band around Grateful Dead style whenever They Might Be Giants hits the road. It’s certainly a great track record for any band...particularly for one more well-known for accordion heroics than guitars and whose most classic songs involve birdhouses and ancient cities.
So, when you are already 15 albums deep into a career that spans over thirty years, what do you do next? If you are They Might Be Giants, you simply do what you’ve always done - you gather your friends in NYC (in this case producer Pat Dillett and regular TMBG cohorts Stan Harrison, Jon Graboff, Jedediah Parish, and Chris Thompson) and follow your creative impulses wherever they happen to lead you.
In the case of Nanobots, the resulting album is a collection of skewed narratives that present a kind of through-line to the band’s earliest work - herky jerky pop songs sprinkled among a variety of truncated mini songs, all of them begging to be sung along to.
“There is a thread that runs along everything we’ve ever done,” says John Linnell. “We’re always trying to do new things - new styles, experimenting with things that are pretty/ugly or kind of atrocious sounding or purely weird - but we also love pop songs. Despite how we may try to change things up, I think we’re still trying to meet the same kinds of criteria ultimately. We are still, in the end, trying to make songs that we want to hear.”
So, what then is a Nanobot? According to reliable Internet sources, a nanobot is “a hypothetical, very small, self-propelled machine, esp. one that has some degree of autonomy and can reproduce.” Given the microscopic nature of songs like “Tick,” “Hive Mind” and “Didn’t Kill me,” it’s easy to see how the idea of the tiny creation with the capacity to accomplish big things might serve as a guiding principle for the entire record, so much of which is built upon a kind of purposeful brevity. That being said, the album still boasts a variety of three-minute pop gems - “Call You Mom,” “Nanobots,” “Lost My Mind” - that rank among TMBG’s most instantly catchy tunes.
“Their 16th album, Nanobots...echoes Squeeze or their beloved XTC, exploits some pretty dramatic dynamic shifts, and takes a quite literal interpretation of the common idiom.” - SPIN
They Might Be Giants Nanobots Track Listing:
1. You’re On Fire
3. Black Ops
4. Lost My Mind
5. Circular Karate Chop
6. Call You Mom
9. Stone Cold Coup d’Etat
10. Sometimes A Lonely Way
11. Destroy The Past
12. 9 Secret Steps
13. Hive Mind
14. Decision Makers
17. Insect Hospital
20. The Darlings Of Lumberland
22. Stuff Is Way
24. Too Tall Girl
25. Didn’t Kill Me
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