Very few bands make it to 18 albums in their career, and very few release 2 LPs in a year anymore, yet here we are with the ever prolific They Might Be Giants. Long behind them are the days of Birdhouse in Your Soul and Boss of Me and despite a few great moments on 2013s Nanobots, the band haven't really written a single to capture the imagination like those aforementioned tunes did. Why? Is a compilation of songs released through the band's weekly Dial-A-Song service and is probably aimed more at their fan's kids than their fans.
The first thing to mention about Why? Is that it features 18 songs and clocks in at about 38 minutes. The longest track on here is Elephants, which goes on for 2 minutes and 38 seconds. This brevity leaves some of the songs feeling woefully underdeveloped, such as the throwaway I Just Want to Dance or I Haven't Seen You In Forever. Neither of these songs really go anywhere.
This isn't to say there aren't a couple of gems hidden away in the fluff on Why? For example, there is the excellent indie pop of Omnicorn and the brilliant I Am Invisible, which on the musical spectrum sits somewhere between Sparks and Pavement. Elsewhere you get Long White Beard which is a fantastic piece of music dragged down by daft lyrics and I Made a Mess, which has some great choral backing vocal arrangements and again recalls the sounds of Sparks.
There is, however, just too much fluff and filler here to ignore. Take for example And Mom and Kid, which is just total nonsense or Definition of Good which isn't even sung in the right key. The album's two worst moments are the completely infuriating So Crazy Books and the frustrating Out of a Tree which has a great intro but after that falls back into dumb lyrics and a totally unforgettable piece of music.
Out of the 18 songs on offer here, there's maybe a good EP hidden somewhere in the mire if you're willing to look for it. It could be said that They Might Be Giants should be focussing more on quality over quantity these days. Arguably, out of the last 3 albums, you could put together one really strong album. There's just too much filler here.
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