I have this theory that all rock greats (the Stones, Van Morrison, etc.) have a golden period of about eight years wherein every album is a classic, before a Goat’s Head Soup or a Period of Transition breaks the spell and things are never quite right again. They Might Be Giants, it must be said, are totally screwing with my theory—not only isn’t there a duff disc in their canon, but their 12th, The Else, is as tuneful and rockin’ as all the rest, from the withering “I’m Impressed” to the female-empowerment anthem “Take Out the Trash.” Adding to the fun, the Johns Flansburgh and Linnell make righteous use of kicking drummer Marty Beller and add scratching from the (so-old-they’re-new-again) Dust Brothers, who produced. The Lennon-like(!) ballad “Be Careful What You Pack” is a gem, too—gloriously melodic, dusted with toy piano, and a splendid complement to the power-pop funny-bone-tickler “Cap’m.” (“Did you say/What I thought you said/My hat looks good on me?/I agree.”) Shouldn’t these guys have dropped a dog by now? Well, that golden-period thing was only a theory, anyway.
They Might Be Giants play Bowery Ballroom July 18 and 25, and August 1 and 8, boweryballroom.com