CD Review of Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants: Here Comes Science
Recommended if you like
“School House Rock,”
Barenaked Ladies
Label
Disney Sound
They Might Be Giants:
Here Comes Science

Reviewed by David Medsker

()

I
t was the logical move, not to mention an incredibly shrewd one, when They Might Be Giants decided to make albums for children. The two Johns. Flansburgh and Linnell, had kids of their own, and were surely disgusted when they realized that children had few options when it came to music that was age-appropriate but not mind-numbingly dumb. Many consumers clearly felt the same way; Here Come the ABCs, the band’s second foray into kiddie fare, is the band’s second-best-selling album only to Flood, while the 2008 follow-up, Here Come the 123s, won a Grammy for Best Musical Album for Children. No, we didn’t know that category existed until now, either.

These days, of course, the kiddie market is cluttered with former chart darlings – or at the very least, chart flings – and what began as a lark is now a career path. Lisa Loeb and the Barenaked Ladies, not to mention Jason from Jason and the Scorchers (he’s now Farmer Jason, thank you very much), have all thrown their hats in the ring, to varying degrees of success. The Johns, however, are still kings of the kiddie jungle – having Disney as their distributor certainly doesn’t hurt – and their latest, Here Comes Science, is the children’s equivalent of the Beatles following Revolver with Sgt. Pepper. In other words, the bar for kid’s music has now been raised ridiculously high.

They Might Be Giants

The most impressive thing about Here Comes Science is that they made an album that speaks to their quickly-growing young fan base without leaving newcomers in the dust. The wordy "Photosynthesis" and a Farfisa-rocking cover of "Why Does the Sun Shine?" are remarkably complex yet catchy – and true to Giants form, the band follows the Tom Glazer cover with "Why Does the Sun Really Shine?," where they correct the scientific inaccuracies of the previous song – while the toddler set will love the "Row Your Boat"-styled "What Is a Shooting Star?" (also a Tom Glazer cover) and particularly "I Am a Paleontologist," the Danny Weinkauf-sung rocker about digging up dinosaur bones. The band covers several fields of science in the process, with songs about evolution (sorry, creationists), biology, the planets, the periodic table of elements, electric cars, and even the color spectrum. For an encore, they take "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" and move him into outer space, going "Oh Susanna" crazy with the lyrics.

They’ve also assembled some fantastic videos for every song on the album. Several of the directors from Here Come the 123s return for another tour of duty, with the makers of "The Seven Days of the Week" directing "I Am a Paleontologist" and the directors of "High Five" turning in clips for "The Bloodmobile" "Roy G Biv," to name but two. The Johns also got more involved with the between-song setup clips, and good luck watching the intro for "Paleontologist" and not saying, "dinosaur bones" for the next week and a half.

By turning their focus towards children, They Might Be Giants have arguably made the best music of their career, but if Here Comes Science is any indication, the band seems primed to unleash the brainier side of their grown-up work on the kids. They’re also about two albums away from creating a body of work that would be this generation’s equivalent of "School House Rock." As the bill who was signed into law said, oh yeah.

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