They Might Be . . . Kids?
They Might Be Giants has always shown potential when it comes to entertaining kids. In fact, most of us unknowingly grew up to their music. From their music videos “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” and “Particle Man” for “Tiny Toon Adventures,” to their soundtrack contributions like “Boss of Me” from “Malcolm in the Middle” and other songs from children’s television, TMBG have always captivated young audiences around the world with their ridiculous songs and poppy melodies.
But ever since the band’s deal with Disney Sound and their exposure in Playhouse Disney, fans who grew up listening to their work found their recent albums “Here Comes the ABC’s” and “Here Comes the 123’s” to be quite frustrating, since they were aimed at the three-to-six demographic. However, John Flansburgh and John Linnell (or “The Johns”) and the rest of the band are back with “Here Comes Science,” which maintains the band’s kid-friendly flavor while pumping it full of geeky references and catchy songs that people of all generations can enjoy.
The new album is entertaining, educational and exciting, as it combines Schoolhouse Rock nostalgia with the band’s usual geekiness and goofiness. This time, the new album has equal parts flash and substance, and it does more than just dedicate an entire song to one letter of the alphabet or a group of numbers.
The album cuts straight to the point in the opening song “Science is Real” by making fun of their other recent work: “I like those stories / about angels, unicorns, and elves /… /But when I’m seeking knowledge /… /The facts are with science / Science is real.” And the science is indeed real as The Johns hired a scientific consultant to work on the album to make it as factual as possible.
The album backs its claims with 19 genre-hopping songs combining aloof melodies with scientific facts about the periodic table in “Meet the Elements”, the color spectrum in “Roy G. Biv”, and even evolution in “My Brother the Ape”. The album also features old favorites from the band’s previous albums such as “Bloodmobile” and the band’s rock-and-roll cover of “Why Does the Sun Shine?” The band even expands upon the cover of the popular 60s song by following it immediately with “Why Does the Sun Really Shine?,” a smooth, relaxing, soul-style song which corrects the factual inaccuracies laid out in the original song, which confuses gas with plasma. With all the facts and science involved in the playlist, it sounds like The Johns are actually trying to teach something to kids and maybe even adults. Furthermore, the subject matter combines the flow of the music perfectly, without sounding forced.
The subject matter is excellent and the music itself is top-notch. The Johns have always been known for their experimental style and their albums have been known to constantly sort styles between tracks. This is no different. One moment, you think you’re listening to punk rock. The next, electronica. After that, you even hear a blend of disco and rock. Regardless of taste, anyone will find a style they like in this album.
Assuming you haven’t already Torrented the CD, the band still has a DVD. And no, it hasn’t been uploaded. The DVD will give anyone, age six and up, a touch of old school from when we all watched PBS and Nick Jr. Each song from the album is featured in a music video that blends animation styles from our childhood, such as stop motion, paper cutouts and even 8-bit video games. Every video is pumped full of wackiness and winking references the animations were based on.
The CD and DVD will definitely interest both kids and adults. The music retains the band’s goofy style while capturing the wonders of science. The animations and sketches complement the music and don’t compromise it. In addition, it maintains a balance between education and excitement without simply setting a series of facts to song.
The songs “Why Does the Sun Shine?” and “Why Does the Sun Really Shine?” capture the self-correcting and evolving nature of science and scientists, while “Science is Real” and “Put it to the Test” convey the real life applications of science. It’s very rare to find an album from the kids section that is bearable and enjoyable to adults, let alone one you would listen to as a guilty pleasure. Granted, the songs are a bit juvenile, but “Here Comes Science” is definitely a fun and rare find.