The essential They Might Be Giants
“They Might Be Giants” (1986)
The band’s first studio LP included the hit single, “Don’t Let’s Start,” that ultimate paean to a bad relationship. Also includes the fake 1960s anthem, “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Clothes,” the mock-country “Alienation’s for the Rich,” and the rocker, “(She was a) Hotel Detective.”
The band at the peak of its quirky-yet-serious power. Includes the poetic “Ana Ng,” the twisted historic “Purple Toupee,” the tribute to urination “Pencil Rain,” the really, really sad, “I’ve Got a Match” and “They’ll Need a Crane,” and, of course, the hilarious, “Kiss Me, Son of God.”
From the opening church choir singing, “Why is the world in love again? Why are we marching hand in hand? It’s a brand new record for 1990: They Might Be Giants’ brand new album, ‘Flood!’” to the tribute to a canary nightlight, “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” “Flood” is the band’s best-selling album. Also includes “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” and “Your Racist Friend.”
“John Henry” (1994)
The first album with a full backup band, it even had horns! And though it includes a great angry rocker, “I Should Be Allowed to Think,” it also features an early “kid” song, “Meet James Ensor,” you know, “Belgium’s famous painter.”
“Factory Showroom” (1996)
The big hit from this LP was “New York City,” an ode to what makes Gotham great, but it also included “S-E-X-X-Y” and the fantastic “XTC vs. Adam Ant.” Also features a “kid” classic, “James K. Polk,” still the greatest rock song about a forgotten president.
The first of the band’s three “kid” albums, it builds on prior quirkiness to include info-tational ditties like “Where Do They Make Balloons?” “The Edison Museum,” and the self-explanatory tribute to a friend with a great tongue, “John Lee Supertaster.” Remember, kids, everything has a flavor, but some flavors are too much.
They Might Be Giants — a.k.a John Flansburg and John Linnell — have put out 14 studio albums in their 20-plus-year recording career. Their sound is easy to dismiss as kitschy and their lyrics are often derided as gimmicky, but there are few bands that write tunes as catchy or lyrics as sad, funny, witty, poignant and, yes, educational as the Giants. Here are the essential records:
Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018