They Might Be Giants: Join Us (Idlewild/Rounder) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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They Might Be Giants

Join Us


Jul 22, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Find It At: Insound


For all the reductive adjectives typically used to describe They Might Be Giants—“quirky,” “weird,” etc.—their songs are always rooted in their own realities. A drum-playing worm sounds perfectly normal when described by John Linnell, and why wouldn’t The Replacements have a song called “We’re The Replacements?”

Conversely, Join Us, the band’s first non-children’s record since 2007, presents standard rock topics in unconventional packages. Not liking a friend’s girlfriend, for example, becomes the dramatic “Judy Is Your Viet Nam;” expressing anger at another person becomes “When Will You Die.” (Again: not a children’s album.)

Join Us is primarily the band in John Henry mode: lean and concise, with only two tracks lasting over three minutes. “When Will You Die,” with its winding melody and pounding backbeat, is classic They Might Be Giants. The lyrics reach their climax with Linnell listing band members: “I’m John and he’s also John/and all of us are wondering when you’re gonna die.”

This 18-track album has too much filler. But it’s another appealing chapter in the band’s history, even if the band’s claws are, uncharacteristically, out. Who knew it would suit them? (


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