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The Else

4.1 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 10, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Else is They Might Be Giant's first studio album since 2004's The Spine. The Else was co-produced by The Dust Brothers (Beck, Beastie Boys). Initial orders include 23 song bonus CD.

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Twenty years after their debut album introduced a well-read duo with a peculiar wit and a gift for contagious melodies, They Might Be Giants--a.k.a. John Linnell and John Flansburgh--still come across as exhilarating and spanking fresh as the theme song to Comedy Central's Daily Show. (Oh yeah, that's them, too.) Fresh off the Giants' second children's record (2005's Here Come the ABCs), the New York twosome began a production alliance with L.A.'s Dust Brothers that resulted in The Else, another collection that ranks with any in their memorable discography. From the fast-tempo opener "I'm Impressed" through the '60s pop edge of "The Mesopotamians," endearing hooks reel you in just far enough for the humorous, often oddball lyrics to bury you. But several times the implications in the lyrics are all too real, such as the love undertones of "Contrecoup" and "Take Out the Trash," an uncannily catchy dump-your-boyfriend song that suggests "Once you get him out, tell him not to come back again." Contradictions like these never bother to disrupt the sequencing, but rather drive home what we already know about They Might Be Giants: they already are. --Scott Holter
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 10, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Idlewild/Zoe Records
  • ASIN: B000QTCY5O
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,172 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John C. Bowerman on July 13, 2007
Format: Audio CD
First off, let me apologize for the title of this review. I couldn't help myself!

The Else, the 12th official release from They Might Be Giants, does not disappoint. The CD offers a total of 13 tracks and there's not a throw-away in the bunch. Obviously there are some songs that are better than others, but all are entertaining and witty. (And I'm sure your favorites will probably be different from mine...that's one of the joys of TMBG - there ability to appeal to various listeners in different ways.)

This album is a worthy addition to the TMBG canon. In the pre-release publicity for The Else, John Flansburg (who, along with John Linnell, forms the core of the band) said that "We wanted to be sure this was an album that was our best effort from beginning to end and I am very excited to report I believe we've actually done it!" I certainly agree with his assessment.

Some of the best songs on the disc are "The Mesopotamians," "The Cap'm," "Upside Down Frown," "Feign Amnesia," and the odd and quirky "Bee of the Bird of the Moth." However, without question, my personal favorite moment is the new extended version of "Contrecoup."

The demo version of Contrecoup has been floating around since 2005 and has appeared on the TMBG podcast as well as the TMBG Clock Radio (an Adobe Flash-powered application, originally released on tmbg.com in 2003, that streams MP3s from tmbg.com). The song had its origins in a challenge issued to John Linnell on WNYC's "The Next Big Thing" radio show to create a song using the almost-forgotten words contrecoup, craniosophic, and limerent.

I loved the original demo, but now the song has truly been "finished" with a much larger band sound.
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Format: Audio CD
I would say that The Else is an even stronger album overall than The Spine was (though, in truth, there are far catchier songs to be found on the previous record). The Else is a weird, moody, and intriguing record. I've heard, and would agree, that there are no real standout tracks to be found...maybe in the future when the whole thing can be listened to with more perspective. I have to say, though, that it really sucked me in when "With The Dark" came on. Like a little rock opera unto itself, it paves the way for the rest of the album. To illustrate this, and I don't know if this would have any meaning to anyone else, but on first listen, that was the song that made me take the inlay back out and follow along with the lyrics, as I did with the rest of the album.
I've listened to it in its entirety a few times now and I still feel that it's a strong album. Very interesting arrangements and especially strong guitar work. As the album progresses, a fair amount of horns work their way into the mix, leaving me wanting to compare this with John Henry. The songwriting strikes me as similar to that album, as well.
The bonus disc, only to be included with the first pressing but sure to be released on its own in due time, collects 23 unreleased tracks, many of which seem album-worthy. Which leads me to one complaint, if you can call it that: The Else, with it's thirteen tracks, is too short, a bit too one-sided. Had a few of the bonus songs been incorporated into the album, The Else would have been classic. I get the feeling that They Might Be Giants are playing it a little too safe musically.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The first time I listened to The Else, I came away incredibly disappointed. How could They Might Be Giants have lost their way? Where were the classic tracks? Every past album TMBG has released has had at least one classic; why wasn't that the case with their latest effort?

The answer was that the classic tracks were right here, staring me in the face. I found that the more I listened to the album, the more I liked it which, strangely enough, was exactly how I felt when I first listened to John Henry. My complaint with John Henry was that it was too rock-oriented; there weren't enough playful tracks as there were with Apollo 18 or Flood. But the more I listened, the more I realized that TMBG had simply progressed in their music. Today, John Henry is one of my favorite TMBG albums. And I can easily say the same thing about The Else.

As with John Henry, it has taken me several playings to fully appreciate The Else, TMBG's 12th album. Their music has progressed quite a bit, and they have a great "full" sound in this latest effort. My personal favorites include "I'm Impressed," "The Cap'M," "Withered Hope," and "The Mesopotamians," each of which is worth the price of admission.

Included with this first edition CD is a bonus disc of songs from the TMBG podcast. It is worth noting that the bonus disc is as good as the official album itself, so it's like you're getting two albums for the price of one!
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