They Might Be Giants, 'The Else' (Idlewild/Zoë/ Universal)

The Else
Critical Mass
Label: Idlewild/Zoë/ Universal

by Lindsey Thomas

Maybe it's because this duo have funneled all their unconventional ideas into children's music lately, but the Giants' 12th album (produced by the Dust Brothers) is their most straightforward yet. Fortunately, it's not short on the witty lyrics ("I was grinding my teeth / I was wasting my youth / And using up my teeth") and solid songwriting that always kept them from being a novelty act. This latest batch of characters includes a paranoid drug dealer who asks his nemesis for protection ("The Shadow Government") and a brokenhearted man who parallels a breakup's aftermath with the scientific details of a concussion ("Contrecoup").

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