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First Play: They Might be Giants, I Like Fun

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Andrea Gin

Brooklyn cult indie rockers They Might be Giants are back with a new album that is a darkly fun musical cure for the post-holiday blues.

On I Like Fun, longtime collaborators John Linnell and John Flansburgh do what they do best: irresistible power pop with lyrical themes ruminating on death and out-of-body experiences. You don’t often come across the musical melding of high-energy with the macabre, but this unlikely pairing has become the band’s trademark sound over its successful 30-plus-year career.

“I think the truth is, as a band, and as writers, the mixed bag of writing melodic songs with dystopian content is a winning combination for us,” says Flansburgh via press release. “I think it speaks more to the persuasive power of melody than it does to the inevitability of dystopian themes. Because ultimately, I think people find a lot of optimism in what we're singing about, even when it's relentlessly pessimistic."

The pair spent a year recording I Like Fun with their long-time live band: drummer Marty Beller, bassist Danny Weinkauf and lead guitarist Dan Miller. It was co-produced with, and mixed by, Patrick Dillett (St. Vincent, The National, Mary J. Blige), and tracked and mixed at the brand-new Reservoir Studios, which were built on the site of the legendary Skyline Studios where they recorded their platinum-selling album Flood.

Even though the band members had the luxury of taking their time with the recording, they decided to keep the production simple.

"The idea that this album took about a year to make surprises me because I wouldn’t say we fussed over any particular track that much,” Flansburgh says. “This album is kind of under-produced for us and certainly by 2017 standards. It’s more like a ‘60s psychedelic production with a featured sound or instrument, maybe a vocal double, but not a ton of overdubs or processing.”

Renowned for their live shows and innovative online presence, They Might be Giants releases this new album in conjunction with a world tour, a fan video contest and the revival of its Dial-A-Song service, where fans can go to hear a new track every week. After three decades together, it’s clear that They Might be Giants still knows how to play to its strengths.

"There’s not a lot of job security in music,” acknowledges Flansburgh. “You see how quickly the best acts you’ve ever seen explode or implode and you come to realize every turn is really a chance to crash the project. Somehow we beat the odds.”

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