It’s difficult to forget that They Might be Giants recorded a children’s album in 2002 when you listen to Join Us. TMBG’S newest is quite an experience, and unless you’re willing to not ask too many questions, don’t pick it up.

Many of the tracks are difficult to listen to because of their overly whimsical sound, yet some gems exploit this surprisingly well. “When Will You Die” has lyrics like “there’s one thing everyone is wondering/when will you die” that makes it good fun. The bitterness is meshed with a bouncy melody and impressive instrumentals.

But “Protagonist” has a background chorus of deep voices that makes it too similar to a “VeggieTales” tune. Yet once you get to “The Lady and the Tiger,” it’s obvious that the band isn’t too serious. The track has a silly but engaging musicality and lyrics that give the classic short story a twist that involves “laser beams.” It is ridiculous, but at only three minutes and with a legitimate beat, you can’t help but keep listening.

Tracks like “Dog Walker” and “Canajoharie” can leave any music lover utterly perplexed, which makes this album fascinating. The vocals get too cheesy at times, the music dangerously childlike, but TMBG’S unrestrained insanity is completely admirable.

Grade: B



Join Us will be available July 19.