They Might Be Giants (TMBG) have spent the last 30 years running the gamut of musical genres, and cornering the market on infectious hooks. John Flansburgh and John Linnell are two of the more prolific songwriters around, and they have just released another set of songs, the Nanobots EP, as a preview of their Nanobots album to be released March 5th. The EP continues TMBG’s revisiting of their early sound on Join Us, while still progressing their music forward.
Opening track “Call You Mom”, is a Linnell showcase with a feel akin to early hit “(She Was a) Hotel Detective”. Hiss pounding piano work and nasal-baritone swirls your hips and holds Flansburgh’s bouncing guitar line tight to turn in one of the best songs they’ve written.
Things slow down, however, with “Lost My Mind”, which turns the focus more to Linnell and Flansburgh’s talent for clever lyricism. The song tells the literal story of losing your mind with labyrinth verses, and a chorus that sings: “Lost my mind / left somewhere behind / must have put it in / amongst the things for throwing out / No where to be found / probably buried under ground / I’d go try to dig it up / but I don’t want to waste my time.”
The final track, “Black Ops”, is the most progressive, and dark toned, as Flansburgh takes the lead in an uncharacteristically political track. In the middle of a pitch black, electronic hallway, Flansburgh sings in a quiet, deadpan tenor about the titular figures “dropping presents from the helicopter”, men and women “so far from home,” who “take the best of it and make a mess of it.” It’s a rough departure from TMBG’s usual upbeat-but-dark humor, and surprisingly, it works.
Hopefully this string of good fortune leads to an equally impressive LP.
Essential Tracks: “Call You Mom”, “Black Ops”