DUST OFF THE VINYL: ‘Flood’ delivers a truly fun experience
March 9, 2017
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There are a lot of different ways for an album to be “fun” — there are lots of rock and punk bands that are fun to listen to because they’re full of energy and attitude, and even slower or sadder music can be fun in a weird way, but one band that really captures the essence of what fun music is would be They Might Be Giants. It’s not hard to see how they went on to make children’s music on albums like Here Come the ABC’s and Here Come the 123’s because of how accessible and bright their music is, and their 1990 album Flood is the epicenter of this fun and light hearted essence.
Flood doesn’t have a particular theme or concept, and rather just feels like a collection of songs the artists cared about writing, which is a great look for TMBG. The opening “Theme from Flood” primes the listener with an opera style exclamation that this is, in fact, an album by They Might Be Giants for 1990 called Flood.
From there, the style of songs bounce around between various show-tuney style compositions that are occasionally specific, like the love song “Lucky Ball and Chain” or when they wax political on “Your Racist Friend,” but are mostly about abstract characters and situations. One example of this is the song “Particle Man,” which is a somewhat silly track focusing on various characters like “Particle Man, Person Man,” and “Universe Man.”
One standout track off the album is the eclectic accordion jam “Istanbul” which tells of how the city of Constantinople was renamed to Istanbul, and questions why, but comes to the conclusion that “That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.” Just by taking a look at a few examples it’s easy to see how crazy and fun these tracks can be.
It would be easy to dismiss this effort as a gimmick album and question whether frontmen John Flansburgh and John Linnell can bang out enough interesting tracks like this for an entire album, but they keep it surprisingly fresh and throw enough curveballs to stay interesting for the entire 43 minutes and 24 seconds of the album. Flood is definitely the definitive work of the band, containing some of their most iconic and interesting tracks, and it will always be a staple of nerdy alt rock.