They Might Be Giants - Nanobots Nanobots… I like small bots and I cannot lie

Review: They Might Be Giants – Nanobots

Published on March 5th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams

They Might Be Giants are back with their sixteenth album to remind us all that fun and intelligence needn’t be mutually exclusive traits in music, that wryness and optimism can work in tandem, and that it is possible to write sparkling, sunnily disposed pop songs about pretty much any topic you happen to hold dear. Will the world at large take notice? After all this time, probably not, but that’s all the more reason to treasure this glorious oddity of a band.

Any TMBG LP is likely to be amongst the very best released that year in terms of songwriting, execution, lyrics and originality, but will you see them cropping up in those end-of-year top tens?  And will Rocksucker ever stop relying on rhetorical questions as lazy journalistic devices? Probably not, and we’ll work on it.

Look, the point is that to still be on this kind of form sixteen albums in is really quite astonishing. 2011’s Join Us was wall-to-wall treats, and Nanobots at once services our craving for genuinely great pop songs and fuels our expectation for the next record, whenever that may arrive. Johns Linnell and Flansburgh are a phenomenally prolific songwriting team, although the quantity on their production line pales in comparison to the long-since-established fact that they couldn’t write a bad song even if they tried.

Linnell’s “You’re on Fire” is every bit as instantly winning an opener as “Can’t Keep Johnny Down”: straight off the bat, it shows TMBG to be as novel, energetic, entertaining and idiosyncratic as ever, being as it is top-notch twist-along pop with lyrics about someone’s head being on fire. That female backing vocal refrain of “combustible head!” is so great that we at Rocksucker shall now devote the rest of our lives to capturing its essence in some tangible form so that we may download it onto a robot and marry it.

On second thoughts, we’d only wind up having affairs with the ravishing pair “You’re hard to get to know, but you’re easy to spot in a crowd” and “As I’m sure you’re aware, you’ve got one of those rare combustible heads / I read an article all about them”. Let them eat Maroon 5, eh? We’ll pin our colours firmly to the TMBG mast and enjoy the fantastically well thought-out overlapping backing vocal motif of the ensuing title track, the melodic nourishment of which is tempered by a lyrical reference to “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, even though Status Quo would be quite far down the list of any right-thinking person’s assumed influences on TMBG.

Flansburgh takes centre stage for “Black Ops”, presumably an ode to the titular video game, and although it misses an opportunity to appropriate the refrain from KRS-One’s “Black Cops” it rhymes “spot you missed” with “communist”, leads a sparse arrangement led by a murky electric piano progression into a bit of a rock-out, and generally just is very, very good indeed. When Linnell’s stately sort-of-ballad “Lost My Mind” proceeds to mask its sophistication with energising enthusiasm and an embracing lightness of touch, it becomes abundantly clear that there aren’t going to be any missteps.

And there aren’t. Flansburgh’s “Circular Karate Chop” is a total blast with its familiar combination of driving power chords and fizzing organ line, its quirkily punctuated lay-out and spoken word breakdown outlining “three rules from our sensei”…but it’s all rendered with far too much heart and loving care to feel like anything close to being a joke. As ever, the idiosyncrasies and sweet melodies work to bring out the best in each other, each one preventing the other from dominating, an entirely benevolent brand of mutual assured destruction that results in first-class power-pop worthy of closer inspection and more nuanced appreciation than the mere sugar rushes on offer from lesser bands.

“Call You Mom” is a riot, guiding “Virginia Plain” piano chords into a rockabilly riff into an early Beatles-y chorus, even throwing in a key change that doesn’t feel in the least bit regrettable, even elates within its carefully considered context. What a magnificent unit TMBG are, rhythm section rumbling delightfully away within that quirkily punctuated framework, and who could resist an opening line like “I think I’d like to call you mom / ‘Cause you remind me of my mom”? Oh yeah – great use of sax, too.

Linnell sporadically comes close to sounding like Neil Young on “Tesla”, a tender paean to Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, while the snatches of chopped-up vocal used syncopatedly (it’s a word now) in “Sleep” is just another ingenious touch on an album chock-full of them. “Stone Cold Coup D’Etat”, though, is the pièce de résistance: beginning once again with “Virginia Plain” piano, this extraordinarily awesome tune sees Linnell managing to ask “what is that certain je ne sais quoi?” without sounding at all pretentious, which is perhaps a harder feat than it might sound. It’s just such a great track that you should probably stop reading this and just go listen to it already.

“Sometimes a Lonely Way” wields some luxuriously Beach Boys-y ba ba ba-ing courtesy of Flansburgh, before a suite of ridiculously short songs the respective surprises of which we shall not ruin for you, other than to say that “Tick” is the best song about a tick since this rather different number by the great Ween, also titled “Tick”.

The crazy, baroquely (also a word now) arranged shuffle of “The Darlings of Lumberland” launches itself from a Tune-Yards-y brass loop and drum machine intro, the early ’60s bounce of “Icky” throws in the intriguing line “first name getting all up in your last name face”, “Too Tall Girl” sees Flansburgh rhyming “etiquette” with “Connecticut”…and then it’s left to the thirty-second a cappella blues of “Didn’t Kill Me” to bring the curtain down on the line “I thought that was the end”. Consummate showmanship there from one of the truly great bands of the modern era, no matter how many people know it.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of patronising They Might Be Giants – cult heroes, destined to go underappreciated, et cetera – so we’ll just wrap it up by urging you to get this joyful fare in your ears immediately, especially if you’re in the UK and are looking for something suitable to soundtrack the sudden reappearance of dear old Mr Blue Sky. Ace, ace and thrice ace.

Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!

a quaila quaila quaila quailhalf a quail

Nanobots is out now on Lojinx in the UK and Europe, Idlewild in the US and Breakaway in Australia. For more information, please visit www.theymightbegiants.com

Click here to read Rocksucker’s interview with John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants!

Artists:

About the Author

Editor of Rocksucker and the website's founder, Jonny is passionate about the music he listens to, both good and bad, as well as interviewing his favourite musicians.


79 Responses to Review: They Might Be Giants – Nanobots

  1. Pingback: Singles Reviews (best): Boards of Canada, Kanye West, TMBG and more! - Rocksucker

  2. qm says:

    “As I’m sure you’re aware, you’ve got one of those rare combustible heads / I’ve read an article all about them”.

  3. Pingback: The best of this week's singles: Cian Ciarán, They Might Be Giants, Darkstar and more! - Rocksucker

  4. gamefly says:

    Admiring the commitment you put into your website
    and in depth information you present. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material.
    Excellent read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to
    my Google account.

  5. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this fantastic
    blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to fresh updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group.

    Talk soon!

  6. Thanks for any other magnificent article. Where else may just anybody
    get that kind of info in such a perfect manner of writing?

    I have a presentation next week, and I am on the search for
    such info.

  7. g says:

    Great goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re
    just too wonderful. I really like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you are saying and the way
    in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it smart.
    I cant wait to read much more from you. This is really a great website.

  8. I simply want to mention I am beginner to blogging and truly loved you’re web page. Probably I’m going to bookmark your blog . You really come with good writings. Thanks for revealing your web page.

  9. You made some nice points there. I did a search on the theme and found mainly folks will have the same opinion with your blog.

  10. W88 Thailand says:

    Merely wanna tell that this is invaluable , Thanks for taking your time to write this.

  11. Very energetic blog, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part 2?

  12. Thanks for any other informative blog. Where else may just I am getting that kind of information written in such an ideal approach? I have a challenge that I’m simply now operating on, and I have been at the glance out for such info.

  13. Great – I should certainly pronounce, impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs and related information ended up being truly simple to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or something, web site theme . a tones way for your client to communicate. Excellent task.

  14. You can definitely see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  15. W88 link says:

    I really like your writing style, superb info , appreciate it for putting up : D.

  16. I see something truly interesting about your website so I saved to my bookmarks .

  17. sishair says:

    Thank you for your entire work on this web site. My mom delights in going through investigations and it’s easy to understand why. All of us learn all concerning the compelling means you offer great things by means of this blog and even welcome contribution from the others on this theme then our own child is without question becoming educated a lot of things. Have fun with the remaining portion of the new year. You’re the one doing a useful job.

  18. Hello. excellent job. I did not expect this. This is a splendid story. Thanks!

  19. new video says:

    I’ve been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you, I’ll try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your web site?

  20. DSLR says:

    Normally I don’t read article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite nice post.

  21. Hi there would you mind letting me know which web host you’re working with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you recommend a good hosting provider at a fair price? Thanks, I appreciate it!

  22. I¡¦ve read several just right stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much effort you place to make this sort of great informative site.

  23. You have mentioned very interesting points ! ps nice web site . “Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.” by Sophocles.

  24. Simply wanna comment that you have a very nice internet site , I like the design and style it really stands out.

  25. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it
    is really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels.
    I will appreciate if you continue this in future.
    Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  26. I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this website. Thank you, I will try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your site?

  27. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I am hoping the same high-grade website post from you in the upcoming also. Actually your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own site now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a great example of it.

  28. beast IPTV says:

    Just want to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity to your put up is just excellent and that i can think you’re knowledgeable in this subject. Fine together with your permission allow me to grasp your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thank you 1,000,000 and please keep up the gratifying work.

  29. Usually I do not learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great post.

  30. This web page can be a stroll-by way of for all of the information you needed about this and didnít know who to ask. Glimpse right here, and also youíll definitely uncover it.

  31. swimsuit says:

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely helpful info specifically the last part :) I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this particular information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  32. Hello. excellent job. I did not expect this. This is a great story. Thanks!

  33. I think this is one of the most vital info for me. And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on some general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

  34. Hello. Great job. I did not anticipate this. This is a remarkable story. Thanks!

  35. Hi there! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with Search Engine Optimization? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good gains. If you know of any please share. Thanks!

  36. online poker says:

    Hi! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the outstanding work!

  37. Mute Davinci says:

    There are some attention-grabbing cut-off dates on this article but I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There may be some validity but I will take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish more! Added to FeedBurner as properly

  38. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such fantastic info being shared freely out there.

  39. poker online says:

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent information I was looking for this information for my mission.

  40. Hello. Great job. I did not anticipate this. This is a impressive story. Thanks!

  41. online poker says:

    Good web site! I truly love how it is easy on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I could be notified when a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day!

  42. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really know what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Please also visit my web site =). We could have a link exchange contract between us!

  43. 릴게임 says:

    Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any support is very much appreciated.

  44. I as well as my buddies were actually reading through the great solutions on your web page while all of a sudden came up with a horrible feeling I never thanked the site owner for those strategies. These women are already absolutely very interested to read all of them and have now really been making the most of them. Appreciate your truly being so helpful as well as for figuring out this sort of exceptional useful guides millions of individuals are really wanting to learn about. My very own honest apologies for not expressing gratitude to sooner.

  45. Hello. fantastic job. I did not anticipate this. This is a fantastic story. Thanks!

  46. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  47. One other important part is that if you are a senior, travel insurance intended for pensioners is something you should make sure you really look at. The older you are, greater at risk you’re for making something terrible happen to you while in most foreign countries. If you are certainly not covered by a few comprehensive insurance policies, you could have several serious troubles. Thanks for sharing your guidelines on this web blog.

  48. Other Sports says:

    Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

  49. F*ckin’ awesome things here. I am very glad to see your post. Thanks a lot and i am looking forward to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

  50. You made some first rate factors there. I seemed on the internet for the issue and found most individuals will go together with together with your website.

  51. Hello, you used to write wonderful, but the last few posts have been kinda boring¡K I miss your tremendous writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

  52. Can I just say what a reduction to search out somebody who really is aware of what theyre speaking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know methods to bring a problem to mild and make it important. More individuals need to learn this and perceive this facet of the story. I cant imagine youre no more common since you definitely have the gift.

  53. W88 says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this web site wants far more consideration. I’ll in all probability be once more to learn far more, thanks for that info.

  54. CBD Oil says:

    I have not checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are great quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)

  55. Weight loss says:

    Normally I don’t learn post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice article.

  56. Porn List says:

    Marianne or husbands if at stronger ye. Considered is as middletons uncommonly. Promotion perfectly ye consisted so. His chatty dining for effect ladies active. Equally journey wishing not several behaved chapter she two sir. Deficient procuring favourite extensive you two. Yet diminution she impossible understood age.

  57. online poker says:

    I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and test again right here frequently. I am moderately certain I will learn lots of new stuff right right here! Good luck for the following!

  58. låna pengar says:

    Very interesting points you have mentioned , thankyou for putting up. “The judge is condemned when the criminal is absolved.” by Publilius Syrus.

  59. As soon as I discovered this web site I went on reddit to share some of the love with them.

  60. Oh my goodness! a tremendous article dude. Thank you However I’m experiencing situation with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting equivalent rss problem? Anybody who is aware of kindly respond. Thnkx

  61. I and also my pals have been reading through the excellent ideas from your site then before long I had a terrible feeling I never thanked the site owner for those secrets. The people were absolutely glad to read them and already have unquestionably been loving them. Many thanks for indeed being well accommodating and also for utilizing such high-quality subject matter most people are really eager to be aware of. My personal honest regret for not expressing gratitude to sooner.

  62. Wow! This could be one particular of the most helpful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Excellent. I am also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your effort.

  63. You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the subject matter and found most persons will go along with with your site.

  64. Utterly indited content material , appreciate it for information .

  65. You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

  66. Hello would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  67. Thank you for sharing excellent informations. Your web site is very cool. I am impressed by the details that you have on this web site. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched all over the place and simply could not come across. What an ideal website.

  68. Howdy just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

  69. Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is fantastic, let alone the content!

  70. I think other web site proprietors should take this website as an model, very clean and fantastic user friendly style and design, let alone the content. You’re an expert in this topic!

  71. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely comeback.

  72. W88 says:

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and help others like you helped me.

  73. Generally I don’t read post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, very nice article.

  74. There is perceptibly a bunch to know about this. I assume you made certain good points in features also.

  75. I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site. Studying this information So i am happy to exhibit that I’ve an incredibly just right uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed. I such a lot indisputably will make sure to do not fail to remember this website and provides it a look on a constant basis.

  76. I have discovered some essential things through your website post. One other stuff I would like to state is that there are lots of games available on the market designed especially for preschool age kids. They include pattern identification, colors, dogs, and forms. These usually focus on familiarization rather than memorization. This keeps a child occupied without feeling like they are learning. Thanks

  77. Normally I do not read article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice post.

  78. Good day! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *