They Might Be Giants -
Severe Tire Damage
by Jason Morrison
Honest, the computer ate my first review of Severe Tire Damage, They Might Be Giants' newest disc, so I'll make this one short and to the point.
With a greatest hits-style lineup of live recordings, TMBG score their best album to date. Nearly every song can and will get stuck in your head, with catchy melodies, a jazzy rock style running from alternative to big band and ironically ludicrous lyrics. TMBG is well known for their deadpan delivery of confusing concepts and somehow inappropriate subject matter, and this disc has most of their best work in the field.
A very well rounded effort, songs such as "They Got Lost," "Why Does The Sun Shine" and "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" stick out as great examples of this band's ability to improvise and keep old material fresh. "Istanbul" and "Particle Man," the band's two most well known songs, are kept interesting in two different ways: "Istanbul" opens with a smoky horn solo and "Particle Man" is the fast-paced, high energy, let's-get-it-over-with concert version.
Of course, there's also the album's new song, "Doctor Worm," which is classic TMBG. It's the guitar and horn riff driven story of Doctor Worm, who's not a real doctor (but he is a real worm). As Doc Worm tells us about his love for drumming, you can't help but feel something for the little guy who tries so hard and is so humble. I hope he makes it someday.
The end of the disc contains a few songs improvised at one concert or another, most of them dealing with The Planet of the Apes. They'd be much better if they didn't sound like someone bootlegged them with a Home Alone Talkback PenŠ. TMBG leaves those tracks off the back of the box, too.
This is a great CD for any TMBG fan, because of new twists on old songs, and a great start for those who haven't heard note one. It's a polished demonstration of why this band is so much fun to see on tour.