Album review: They Might Be Giants – Why?
- Credit: Archant
TMBG wryly explore youthful exuberance and parental exasperation on their new record, says Stephen Moore.
The Grammy-winning veterans of leftfield and irreverant indie last year revisited their Dial-A-Song project, producing a song and video every week for a year.
Why? is extracted from 2015’s crop and sees them focus on kids.
The songs are childlike, rather than childish - simply-arranged ditties painting various pictures of juvenilia and family life, be it the storytelling youngsters and twee pop in Elephants or the right-on credentials of And Mum And Kid, a natty strum-along on marriage equality.
The wry quips and couplets are the main attraction and come thick and fast, from the opener Oh You Did’s chronicle of parental exasperation with egg-throwing, water spilling and attempted napkin digesting, to the wide-eyed playground muddle of fact and fantasy of Or So I Have Read (‘Animals can smell your dreams’).
The music, generally a pared-back combo of finger-picked guitar, a couple of drumskins and a synth or two, tends to take a back seat to pretending to be invisible, or pondering why the word for ‘word’ is ‘word’.
In this sense, while certainly entertaining and prompting you to ponder on the lost worlds of youth, Why? struggles to become more than the sum of its parts.
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But it seems churlish to complain when Out Of A Tree’s exasperated protagonist relays parental struggles with an eight-year-old determined to live in a treehouse - all to blissful Americana.