John Flansburgh and John Linnell of They Might Be Giants released their 12th album, The Else, through iTunes seven weeks before the CD streeted, ostensibly as a courtesy to "fans who feel they cannot wait," though such impatient fanatics are the ones most likely to miss the 23-song bonus CD included with The Else's first pressing. At least online buyers got extra time to unfold the songs: The Else initially sounds more cohesive (and samey) than the Johns' usual kitchen-sink approach, but multiple listens reveal the many melodic subtleties underneath the catchy, upbeat alt-rock tone and the unusually processed, beat-driven sound, which comes partly via co-producers The Dust Brothers. For the first time, it's sometimes hard to tell which John is singing lead, but the technical trickery is as interesting as any of TMBG's other many, many experiments over the years.

Advertisement