Posts Tagged ‘The Guitar’

Apollo 18

Apollo 18

Apollo 18

(You are reading a review written in the month of June, 2011, which was dedicated to the band They Might Be Giants and the task of reviewing many of the bands most popular material.)

New Years Eve, around 1996, I was watching TV and this guy was talking about what bands he hoped would burst into the limelight in the coming year. He mentioned a few names, and one of those was They Might Be Giants. The seed was planted and in the year 2000, I would buy my first They Might Be Giants CD. I came across Apollo 18 at the local record store, and I couldn’t say no to one of the best album covers ever.

 

Apollo 18 is what started my love affair with TMBG and to this day is one of my all time favorite albums. It has ties to NASA and space exploration and themes thereof, and a song called “Fingertips”(tracks 17 through 37) which is a bunch of very short songs that TMBG put together to make the shuffle function of your CD player a little more entertaining. This “song” is super entertaining to watch them perform live (see below). Also included on the album are more than a handful of songs that were in a lot of ways much better than most the tracks on Flood, still the album couldn’t sustain the popularity the band has garnered with their previous album.

Apollo 18 peaked at number 99, ten lower than Lincoln and lower than any other major album of the 90’s. This could be for a number of reasons. The band received a lot of criticism from long-time fans with the tour surrounding this album, as they adopted a backing band for the tour. These fans staged boycotts and protested shows. Also, this was the first conscious attempt of the band to embrace a new style of music. While the music was still very driven by the same themes, the band lost its very 80’s sound, and it wasn’t as campy as Flood. Most of the songs are louder, more complex, and seem more grown up in this way.

 

Songs like “Minimum Wage” and “Particle Man” are all but gone on this album. The closest thing to these types of songs is “Which Describes How You’re Feeling” which was actually written in the late 80’s, and “Spider” :

Other songs on the album are more conventional in their sound, while still achieving the zany and complex lyrics as before. Songs like “I Palindrome I” and “Mammal” are perfect examples. These songs could have been played on the radio when the album was released and would have fit in until you listened to the lyrics.

The song “Narrow Your Eyes” is a favorite:

And the singles from this album, “The Statue Got Me High” and “The Guitar” are a lot of fun:

But the more I listen to the album, the more one track stands out. “See the Constillation” is an amazing song with fantastic lyrics. The band blends a lot of different themes and ideas here, as well as creates a musical arrangement that combines a lot of their previous sounds:

I would write about all their songs, but you wouldn’t want to read all that. “If I Wasn’t Shy” and “Dinner Bell” deserve their own paragraphs. As does “My Evil Twin” and “Dig My Grave.” I simply don’t have the time, and neither do you.

If you’re looking to buy an album to start off with, this is highly recommended since its near the middle of their career and showcases their more recent sound with some remnants of their 80’s style. You can find Apollo 18 at amazon.com used for about $2. Go get it.

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