- by paul_guyet Rating:8 Release Date:2016-03-18 Label: Megaforce Records
The 19th studio album from Brooklyn duo They Might Be Giants* collects the remainder of their 2015 Dial-A-Song tracks, but don’t let that dissuade you; they made sure to save some of their best work for last.
Unlike 2015's Glean, which featured strong work from both John Flansburgh and John Linnell, Phone Power is a lot more of a Linnell showcase, starring such gems as "I Am Alone", an intriguing, Bond-flavored piece, the retro-classic** "It Said Something", and "ECNALUBMA", "I'll Be Haunting You", and "Trouble Awful Devil Evil" perhaps some of the best recent TMBG songs penned by Linnell. Not to say there's nothing on offer from Flansburgh; "To A Forest" is a chillingly childlike cautionary tale, "Sold My Mind To The Kremlin" is some solidly weird stuff, and "Daylight" is unlike anything Flans has done before, truly unique and startling. Throw in the oddly charming and rustic duet of "Impossibly New" and you have a another excellent They Might Be Giants album.
That said, the back end of Phone Power does quite a bit to upset things. The inclusion of their live cover of Destiny’s Child's “Bills, Bills Bills” (from The A.V. Club’s “Undercover” project), while making commercial sense ruins the feel. A studio version might have ameliorated that. Then there's "Black Ops Alt", ostensibly a leftover from 2013's Nanobots, and "Got Getting Up So Down", an extended version of a Dunkin' Donuts jingle from a decade ago. These three tracks would have been perfect for a b-side/rarities collection, of which the band has several, but, featured on an album, they muddy the waters.
To be fair though, it's always hard to look at the music of They Might Be Giants objectively. If someone merely happened upon Phone Power, they would be delighted, confused and, most of all, curious and left wanting more. And there's nothing better for an artist than to leave their listeners wanting more.
Right now, Phone Power is available in a pay-what-you-like format, with various additional incentives.
*And third full length LP in less than a year.
** Is that redundant?