While known for their eclectic and often downright goofy songs, They Might Be Giants take a stab at sincerity on the forthcoming album “Mink Car,” due Sept. 11 via Restless Records. Such a statement should not deter longtime fans of the band, as there’s plenty of the trademark wit for which John Flansburgh and John Linnell are known laced through a collection of songs inspired by a typically wide range of musical influences.
Several of the songs on the set have been part of TMBG’s live act for some time (“I’ve Got a Fang,” “Older,” “Drink!”) or heard in previous incarnations through Internet-only releases, or via the band’s online EMusic subscription service TMBG Unlimited (“Cyclops Rock,” “Working Undercover for the Man”).
However, a substantial amount of new ideas grace “Mink Car.” Most surprising may be “Another First Kiss,” a straightforward ballad sung by Flansburgh with no sense of false emotion or expected tongue-in-cheek twists. In describing the track, he and Linnell say such “love songs are relatively uncharted territory for us, but we are very happy with the results here.”
The rest of the album is as diverse as anything TMBG has released. Highlights include a pair of dancefloor-driven songs, “Man, It’s So Loud In Here” and “Mr. Xcitement,” the latter of which features former Soul Coughing leader Mike Doughty; the seemingly subversive “Wicked Little Critta”; and the infectious opening track “Bangs.”
“Mink Car” is TMBG’s first studio album in five years, and the group’s first for Restless. Backed by the Band of Dans — guitarist Dan Miller, bassist Dan Weinkauf, and drummer Dan Hickey — Linnell and Flansburgh enlisted a number of producers to craft “Mink Car.” Those contributing to the set were Fountains of Wayne/Ivy mainstay Adam Schlesinger, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (Madness, Morrissey), the Elegant Too (Skeleton Key’s Chris Maxwell and Phil “DJ Five Star” Hernandez), and long-time TMBG producer Pat Dillett.
In other news, a feature length documentary on the band is being made by AJ Schnack, who has produced videos for Blink-182, 311, Papa Roach, and TMBG. A live performance will be filmed Aug. 5 in Brooklyn, N.Y., in front of an audience of about 400 fans, with proceeds to be donated to a local animal shelter). In addition, the documentary team is seeking home movies, photos, and videos of the band from throughout its career. Anyone who believes they have material that should be considered is encouraged to E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the Brooklyn performance, They Might Be Giants have sporadic U.S. dates scheduled through the summer, and are planning a fall tour in support of “Mink Car.” Confirmed shows include Aug. 31 in Notre Dame, Ind., Sept. 1 in New York, Sept. 13 in Eugene, Ore., and the next night in Portland, Ore.