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After nearly 30 years together, They Might Be Giants have established themselves not only as the quirky pop innovators and intrepid musical explorers, but as a bona fide pop institution. On Join Us, their 15th studio album, the Johns' continue to build upon this solid foundation with a collection of songs that finds the band looking backwards as they move forward. Pulling elements from all of their past work, the album feels like a survey course in They Might Be Giants, touching on different points in their creative development yet still managing to feel like a cohesive collection of work. The opening track, "Can't Keep Johnny Down," is a Linnell-fronted midtempo rocker that feels a lot like "SenSurround" and "Till My Head Falls Off," while later on we're treated to "You Don't Like Me," which evokes the John Henry-era melodic, guitar-oriented songwriting that came about when the pair switched to a full band arrangement. They Might Be Giants don't stop at the smoother, more polished work, though. Songs like "They Lady and the Tiger" and "Three Might be Duende" hark back to Linnell's earliest works, smashing oddball arrangements, impossibly irreverent lyrics, and infectious vocal melodies together to re-create the sound that marked the experimental excursions of their new-wave period. Given its career-spanning sound, Join Us seems to be as much an invitation to TMBG fanatics to kick back and remember the good old days as it is a call to arms for new fans to delve into the bands back catalog with a collection of songs that's as close to a retrospective of the band's career as you can get without actually including any old songs. It's this quality that makes the album not just an easy recommendation for listeners old and new, but one of their most fun, accessible, and solid albums since Factory Showroom.
|Label:||Rounder / Umgd|