They Might Be Giants, ‘Nanobots’ (Idlewild)
This extremely clever, Brooklyn indie-pop band headed up by the two Johns — Linnell and Flansburgh — hasn’t had a big hit since 1990’s “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” but the group’s charming 16th studio album, a wonky sci-fi concept effort called “Nanobots,” has some chart contenders. Among 25 often extremely brief tracks loosely configured around a futurist theme involving robots, Nicola Tesla, replicas and insects, standouts include the sinister, shape-shifting “Black Ops”; the alternately sunny, two-guy vocals punctuated by “Star Wars”-ish instructional directions of “Circular Karate Chop”; the hilarious, Chuck Berry-inspired “Call You Mom” (“I think I’m going to call you Mom because you remind me of my Mom”); “Tesla,” done as a romantic paean to that scientist’s many inventions; and the threateningly slinky electric bass lines of “Replicant” (“What have you got behind your back?”).
It’s all done in good fun, with impeccable musicianship and whistle-clean production, including sudden, jaunty spurts of horns, percussion and even mandolin (“Hive Mind”). Granted, listening to 25 quippy little songs is a bit like getting to the bottom of a bag of sour penny candy you shouldn’t have finished. But it’s fun in little bites. And that’s just how it’s made to be consumed.
Other new releases
- Whitest big county in the U.S.? It’s us
- Kent family mourns loss of father, two sons in Father’s Day weekend crash
- Ticket prices soar, then drop for World Cup
- As Puget Sound sweats, few air conditioners are cooling us down
- Pursuit of big-money contract comes at a cost for Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
Most Read Stories
Maria Schneider and Dawn Upshaw, “Winter Morning Walks” (ArtistShare)
Jimi Hendrix, ”People, Hell & Angels” (Decca)
Madeleine Peyroux, “The Blue Room” (Decca)
Paul de Barros, Seattle Times music critic