"I admit, I'm impressed," sings the duo They Might Be Giants on The Else, their 12th album since 1982. Fans will agree, considering TMBG's slew of drab discs in recent years. But with the assistance of super producers the Dust Brothers (Beck, Beastie Boys), the duo takes a step in the right direction -- backward.
The nerdy lyrics to "Upside Down Frown" are vintage TMBG, like something off 1992's Apollo 18. The gritty rock of "Climbing the Walls" recalls Factory Showroom, the band's last great record.
One of the group's great qualities is its sugary harmonies. These are in full effect on "The Mesopotamians," a tune that also spotlights TMBG's knack for storytelling. Meanwhile, the disc's best track is "The Cap'm," a vibrant pop tune. After 25 years, these dudes still have fun.
The Else, however, isn't perfect. "Greasy Kid Stuff" sounds like a throwaway for toddlers, while "Contrecoup" is just plain bad. Without those clunkers, however, this album proves that They Might be Giants, the coolest nerds ever, have more geek pop to drop.