4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Damn Good Times!,
This review is from: The Spine (Audio CD)
Let's be frank: Mink Car blew. Seriously, blew sky high. It stank. And this was a shame, because every other album, with only occasional lapses in quality, were top-notch albums. SO when I first slipped in The Spine, I was prepared to be disappointed.
And I was.
I thought it was terrible. SO I shook my head that TMBG had finally turned--what, I don't know, mainstream? No, not really, Mink Car was nothing more than a Dance Mix album as far as I'm concerned.
Fast forward five days later. I'm on my way out the door and forget my cell phone. Run back in and...the CD is sitting on the desk next to the phone. I figure, what the heck, grab it, and put it in for my drive to work.
And the sun shone.
I don't *know* what I was thinking--perhaps it was preparing myself for the worst and actually thinking it as well. The Spine has, song for song, some of TMBG's best music and lyrics. They're back in their old groove; the songs no longer seem like they're nonsense sentences pulled out of a hat, but they lyrically flow together. And the quirkiness that seemed to dissipate in Factory Showroom and Mink Car returned with an almost violent vengeance.
There's the fairly standard, toe-tapping staples: Experimental Film, Memo to Human Resources, and Damn Good Times. There's the requisite slow, sloppy song at the end--in this case, I Can't Hide from My Mind. And, with perhaps a tip to the eponymous "Fingertips" from Apollo 13, two songs--"Spine" and "Spines" (ahem)--are 30 seconds long each.
But there's some great songs on this disc that put it close to the "Till My Head Falls Off" or "Birdhouse In Your Soul" stuck-in-your-head-now-I-Remember-Why-I-Like-These-Guys songs. You can this in Au Contraire, a decidedly random survey of both appropriately diffident historical and contemporary celebrities and the haughty attitude with no substance that makes us immediately think of people we know. "Stalk of Wheat" (perhaps of the frying variety?) is short but a catchy little tune. And "Museum of Idiots" is clearly the home run of the disc--an extremely hummable tune, wicked lyrics, and a 3/4 beat that almost wants to make you dance when the song is still going through your head four hours while your at work four hours since you heard it in your car.
I've digested enough of the CD to rank it with four stars. I'm docking it one star for two reasons. One, TMBG used to be criminally prolific in their songwriting, famously so, in fact, and were rightly regarded as overachievers--they never put quantity above quality, but still managed to crank out 18+ songs a disc. This CD (discounting the "Spines") only has 14. I'm glad they focused creatively, so I'm not *too* upset, but hopefully they're not running off of one engine. The other thing is--well, let's face it. They're not younger anymore. Their voices sound different, and not necessarily in a good way. And I get the feeling that they're running out of pranks. I'm sure I'm not the only one listening to "Thunderbird" and actually hearing "Dr. Worm"--they're close enough in rhythm and tune that I think--gasp!--they're starting to repeat themselves. Let's hope not.