As a long-time They Might Be Giants fan, I was excited a couple of years ago when I saw this album in a shop; I was disappointed when I saw that it was a “children’s” album so I didn’t buy it. Well, now that I have a child of my own I thought it was time; and if little Jay is going to listen to childish songs, I’d prefer he listen to TMBG rather than endless repetitions of “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”. So I bought a copy of “No!” for us.
It’s really good! Fun for littlies, but a few of the songs could slot into any other TMBG album. My favourite is “Four of Two”, which is either an exploration of the way perceived time slows down when anxiously waiting to meet someone, or else a celebration of humankind’s endless capacity for self-deception. And all delivered with a fun and catchy tune and slightly twisted lyrics.
Jay’s favourite, on the other hand, has to be “Violin”, which is just a few words and phrases repeated a few times (“violin, lin, lin”, “speck of dust, dust, dust”, etc.). The best part is the theatrical actions and gestures that Joanne has made up to go along with the words. Even I think they’re fun, and I’m not even a 2-month-old any more.
Overall the songs are a little simpler than standard TMBG. “Where Do They Make Balloons?” is mellow and tuneful with quirky lyrics, and “In The Middle In The Middle In The Middle” is an instructional song about crossing the road. (Maybe it makes sense in the USA, but not where I live…) “No!” also features “Grocery Bag”, TMBG’s second song about a bag of groceries. This is just a deadpan recitation of the contents of the bag, unlike the wistful and grim “Dead” (one of my favourite TMBG songs ever) from “Flood”. It’s simple, but it’s fun.
Even though some of the songs from “No” aren’t as rich as TMBG’s best, it still measures up to their high standards (better than, say, “Mink Car“). I still really enjoy this album and so does my 2-month-old. In fact I think that pretty much anyone would find something to like about “No!”. Every home should have a copy of this CD.