For their 17th studio album, Glean, New Yorkers They Might be Giants returned to their Dial-A-Song project, an ongoing venture that the band started in the early 1980s.
Before the days of streaming and YouTube, the band innovated a new way of getting music to their fans, setting up an answer phone that played a new They Might Be Giants track each day. The project resulted in hundreds of tracks being released to fans that could find the phone’s number in the back pages of Village Voice, a free magazine in New York.
In 2006, the original phone line was disconnected but at the beginning of 2015 the band resurrected the Dial-A-Song project online, streaming new videos on their website and YouTube channel.
Compiled of tracks from the 2015 project, Glean is one of the most eclectic releases this year, weaving more different sounds into an 16 track LP than you probably thought was possible. With each track nailing its style to a tee, a feat only made possible by the hard work They Might Be Giants has put into creating a plethora of music for their fans in the last 30 years.
Kicking off with the punchy, pop punk ‘Erase’ the record first few tracks all take on an alternative rock feel, throwing in a few electronic samples for good measure, before taking a musical u-turn with ‘Music Jail, Part 1 & 2’. With hints of the tango the track would not be out of place in a West End musical, its intricate and dramatic sections weaved into the band’s signature guitars.
‘Madam, I challenge you to a duel’ slows things down for two minutes and ‘Let me tell you about my operation’ swings into the 1920s with a brass section making a cameo appearance on the record.
Title track ‘Glean’, the shortest track on the record, neglects lyrics and instead They Might Be Giants decided to provide fans with one minute and 48 seconds of experimental instrumental.
Glean really proves They Might Be Giants ability to produce brilliant songs from genres at opposite ends of the musical spectrum, something they have been doing, with the aid of answer phones and now the internet for their fans since their inception