on May 25, 2004
This album captures the triumphant exuberance of childhood in a way that few other children's albums do. Songs such as "Fibber Island" and "Robot Parade" encourage children to exercise imagination and creativity. In "Bed, Bed, Bed," watching TV is but one of many activities in a full day that includes meeting friends, riding bikes, and playing the guitar. Even better, some of the songs are educational ("Where Do They Make Balloons?", "The Edison Museum") with the spirit of play, not lectures. But best of all, the songs have both simplicity and sophistication to their goofiness to appeal to children and older listeners alike. "Violin" and "John Lee Superstar" are good examples of this.
This album contains no bad language, violence, or encouragement of such, so most parents would not object to the material in this album. While some of the songs ("I Am Not Your Broom") may be interpreted as encouraging rebellion in children, I do not feel they are any more subversive than say, the poetry of Shel Silverstein.
The whimsical interactive sequences mostly require only that you run your mouse over the images, so children who can't click the buttons can still enjoy them. My one-year-old nephew insisted on going to listen to the CD on the computer first thing in the morning for quite a while. I also bought this album for my TMBG fan friends who were soon to be parents, and they were delighted.
on April 3, 2004
This is a great TMBG album. There are only a few songs I don't totally like, but it's still worth the money.
Fibber Island: Very TMBG like in lyrics, a little more mellow than most of their songs.
Four of two: A typical TMBG song, just a little kiddish in the lyrics
Robot Parade: Disco sounding, with a robotic voice and a catchy tune
No: The title track is one of my least favorite songs on here.
It is hard rock kind of, and is really repetitive.
Where do they make balloons:Sung by one of the Dan's, this song is a caatchy mellow tune
In The Middle:This is remake of a PSA jingle. I like it, sung by Robin "Goldie" Goldwasser.
Violin: repetitive but nice
John Lee Supertaster:Good, more TMBG-ish
The Edison Museum:Boring
The House At The Top Of The Tree: Repetitive, yet strangely addictive
Clap Your Hands: Yet ANOTHER repetitive track, this was featured on a gp kids commercial. I don't like it.
I am Not Your Broom: This one's weird, no instruments, but it's good.
Wake Up Call: Repetitive, but nice
I am a Grocery Bag: Short, good song
Lazyhead/bed, bed, bed/Sleepwalkers:Bedtime songs, all nice, fun songs.
Plus, the enhanced CD featurs are top-notch, and the credits have a catchy bonus song!
So, overall, a good cd, but not their best
on May 12, 2003
I've been listening to the Giants for about 13 years now, loving many of their songs, feeling indifferent to some, and disliking just a few. I have always appreciated their humor and wit and felt their music already had a child-like quality with adult sophistication and musical savvy. This CD is very cute, perhaps for a VERY young child (under 4 maybe?), but I've already had my daughter appreciating songs like "Doctor Worm", "Don't Let's Start", and "Birdhouse In Your Soul" since she was quite young - songs which can already cater to adults and childeren simply because of the catchiness and quirkiness. Songs like these I'd rather expose my daughter to then most of the songs on "No!" simply because their other CDs contain much more interesting content. I don't think kids need things spelled out for them - I think it is much more interesting to let them go ahead and have a unique interpretation of things, which I have done, myself, through the years listening to They Might Be Giants.
on February 24, 2003
Over the years, They Might Be Giants have sung about death, substance abuse, marital breakdown, insanity, paranoia, senility, paralysis, isolation and general disappointment. In that sense, their 2002 children's album NO! is a bit of a departure; musically, though, it's as hooky and weird as ever.
Singer-keyboardist John Linnell -- who has a young son -- dominates this project with an unself-conscious gusto that has clearly inspired everyone else involved. "Four of Two" is a comical, polka-flavored rocker about a guy who doesn't realize that the clock has stopped, misses his date, and awakens to a future of "flying cars and gigantic metal bugs." In the rousing title cut and "Bed Bed Bed," Linnell clearly remembers what it's like to be a kid; in the latter, he marvels over the full day he has had before he goes to sleep ("I've had my fun ... there's nothing left to do"), and in the former, he has fun with the most mundane aspects of parent-child antagonism ("'May I stay, can I go' -- 'no no no' ... 'Sit, stay, roll over' -- 'no no no'"). "The House at the Top of the Tree" is a gentle pop tune structured after "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly," albeit with an even more absurd premise (a mouse threatening to eat a house unless a dog brings him some potato chips?). In the a-cappella "I Am Not Your Broom," about a broom rebelling against its owner/master, he performs both sides of the argument, as he does in "No!" ("'What nonsense are you speaking, broom?' ... 'I'm throwing off my chains of servitude'"). The 30-second "I Am a Grocery Bag" could be an epilogue to 1990's "Dead"; dropping all refs to reincarnation, expiration dates and having been a jerk in his previous life, the narrator simply ponders his current physical state! In "Violin," Linnell lingers over words like "hippo," "mop," and "speck of dust" in various goofy voices before lapsing into a brief lesson in fractions centered around George Washington's head (don't ask). The best of the lot has to be "Sleepwalkers," a lovely mid-tempo number that sonically recalls 1996's "Your Own Worst Enemy" and 2001's "My Man," only with a complete lack of heavy themes.
Linnell's singer-guitarist bandmate John Flansburgh brings a surprising amount of sympathy and enthusiasm to this project, considering that he and his wife, singer Robin Goldwasser, have no children. "Fibber Island," with its folkish arrangement, its surreal lyrics, and a hilarious cameo (or two) by Linnell, is very similar in feel to 1988's "Cowtown"; but instead of obscure lyrics about a cow under the sea, Flansy performs a paean to the joys of making stuff up ("To get to Fibber Island, you just close your eyes, start fibbing in your mind, and see what you can find"). "John Lee Supertaster" is a funky, bluesy rocker about the joys, and peeves, of having a heightened sense of taste ("Can't drink coffee or beer ... he loves ice cream and pie"). Clap Your Hands" is little more than kid-friendly disco, with calls to "jump in the air" and "stomp your feet" instead of "do the Hustle" or "shake your booty." I know that many people vastly prefer the heavy-metal "adult version" of "Robot Parade" (originally released as an EP B-side, also available on 2002's Dial-A-Song anthology), but I still think the new, dreamier arrangement here is better suited to the futuristic-fantasy lyrics. The sweet-voiced Flansburgh also handles the disc's token lullaby, "Lazyhead and Sleepybones," in which he has fun with synonyms ("When Lazyhead says the window is closed, Sleepybones says it's shut ... And even though they should be friends, they can't get along"). It's a beauty, and possibly my second-favorite track.
Goldwasser herself guests on a cover of "In the Middle," a traffic-safety jingle the Johns remembered from their youth; it could easily have been the most indulgent track (with the sort of instructional lyrics that the Johns tried to avoid in their own compositions), but Robin's sweet delivery makes it go down easier. Nicholas Hill (who sang "I hear the wind blow..." on 1992's "Fingertips") guests on the educational and delightfully silly "Edison Museum" ("the tallest, widest, and most famous haunted mansion in New Jersey"). And Danny Weinkauf, the bassist from the great "band of Dans," is a pleasant surprise as co-writer and lead singer on "Where Do They Make Balloons?", delivering lines like "New York has tall buildings, New Jersey has its malls / Pisa has a leaning tower -- will it ever fall?" in a warm rasp over a gently catchy Beatle-esque melody. (Only "Wake Up Call," a funky little number with lyrics so minimal it should've been an instrumental, is utterly skippable.)
Bottom line: There's nothing to pick apart here, just a fun pop record that parents can enjoy with their kids, and that diehard TMBG fans may appreciate both as a change of pace and for its familiarity. If you're just getting into the Johns, and you DON'T know anyone who has children, NO! should be one of the last TMBG albums you get.
on January 11, 2003
I compare "No!" to SpongeBob because like the show, this disc is irreverent and uncoordinated, yet it is weirdly brilliant. I purchased this for my younger brother after he got hooked on my copy of "Dial-A-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants".
They Might Be Giants are well-known for taking utterly out-there ideas and running with them and "No!" makes a perfect breeding ground for them. They all have humorous ideas and most have equally entertaining CD-ROM games. My favorite song on here is the brilliant "Where Do They Make Balloons?" sung by Danny Weinkauf, one of the Band of Dans. Also worth mentioning is that Robin Goldwasser (who sung "Dr. Evil" from Austin Powers 2) returns for "In the Middle, In the Middle, In the Middle". Of course, the two Johns handle things nicely on the rest of the album, paying homage to the old lady who swallowed a fly on "The House at the Top of the Tree", their disobedient sweeper in "I Am Not Your Broom" and that wonderful word "No!". All in all, another keeper from the pair of Johns and the band of Dans.
on November 29, 2002
I'm slowly getting into performing and writing some children's music myself, and so I've been going to every library in my area and devouring the various children's music albums there. Some good stuff- especially Trout Fishing in America, Jack Prelutsky, and even some Raffi... but a lot of it is really stupid and trite and somewhat condescending to kids. I was thrilled to find No! at one library. I've been a TMBG fan through the years, and was already planning to incorporate songs like "Why Does the Sun Shine?" into my kids' music setlist, but I hadn't really kept up on them enough to know that they had released a 'children's music album'.
Once I heard it, though, I had to really question that label, because what I hear in the album (which I love, by the way) is really more of a very clever and wry parody of children's music than actual children's music, although I've no doubt that children like it for what it is. If you've actually listened to a lot of children's music, particularly in a wide and heavy dose like I have lately, you'll know what I mean. Rather than being totally genuine about it, as many reviews of the album that I've read seem to think, I highly suspect that TMBG firmly had their tongues in their cheeks and were cackling subversively as they made this record. Lazyhead and Sleepybones, for example, is a sly twist on the common idea of many kids' songs that sing about opposites. Where Do They Make Balloons? is a parody of wordplay songs. Fibber Island pokes fun at the many absurdist kids' songs. The Edison Museum is a brilliant and hilarious parody of 'spooky' songs. Clap Your Hands ribs the absolute dearth of children's songs where they're told to clap along, jump up and down, etc. And on and on...
I suppose that perhaps, if they did really intend it for children, that the songs just came out that way and because they were aimed at children, they tend to fall into some of those usual kids' song categories, but it really seems intentionally parody-like to me, and more intended to poke fun at the 'form'. But regardless, it still works on the different levels, and is probably enjoyed very much by kids nonetheless, which is why it really seems brilliant to me. Kind of along the lines of Zappa's "We're Only in it For the Money", which was a sly parody of the "Sgt. Pepper" album, and yet worked very well on its own.
on November 25, 2002
I really wish record stores would stick this in the children's section where it belongs, so it may warp more young minds for the better! Instead, it often gets thrown in the adult sections with all their other work. Regardless, NO! is THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS most exciting, catchy and cohesive album since John Henry hit the shelves in 1994. It may be a children's album, and it may contain a cover of the old Department of Transportation tune about crossing the street correctly, but for the most part it features their most interesting subject matter and hilarious asides in quite some time. "I AM NOT YOUR BROOM" fits right alongside the classic "Spider", as far as I'm concerned, and "Bed Bed Bed" is one of John Linnel's most infectious melodies. "Robot Parade" is just the kind of youth-oriented revolution anthem this generation needs, and "Four of Two", aside from being a fantastic sing-along, confirms the important notion that indeed the future will hold gigantic metal bugs! If you have children, you need to expose them to this. If you don't, and you have the tiniest soft spot for the Giants, you should really try and expose it to yourself.
on November 7, 2002
Even though I'm a long-time TMBG fan, it still startles me when their songs get radio play. So you can imagine how startled I was when I was listening to the CBC and Sook-Yin Lee was on DNTO doing her thing, and she puts on The House at The Top of The Tree. My delight started at glowing and only increased as each recursive verse played, and I was fondly reminded of all those round-about songs that they taught me when I was but a wee lad. Needless to say, I bought it, played it, and was overcome with mirth by the sheer quality of every track. There is no dead weight on this album. Every song is a gem that your kids will love to sing and dance to. I've given a copy to every one of my friends with children, and they love it. To buy this album is to buy your children a future of happy memories!
This is an album both for longime fans of the Giants, and for new fans of a younger generation. The interactive CD software by the Chopping Block is faboo, and I'm still not tired of trying to set the clocks to rooster time...
on September 28, 2002
Is it for kids? About as much as most They Might Be Giants albums are for kids; in other words, "YES Mostly!" it's for kids. TMBG speaks to the child in each of us. No! is no exception.
If you like They Might Be Giants, you're probably going to buy the album anyway. If you don't, you won't. That's pretty much how it goes with this band.
Of course, the lyrics are at their usual quality, both clever and fun. The music is more childlike to fit the album's theme. Most notably, the album is interactive. While the music plays, you get to play little click-picture games. They're not big games, but they're still amusing. I had a good hour (and more) of fun with the CD ROM segment of the disc.
If you want something interesting to listen to, No! won't disappoint you. TMBG albums take getting used to, even for a seasoned fan like me. They are a progressive band. But before you know it, you'll be humming along, then learning the lyrics, then singing along...and after a while you'll be bothering your coworkers by singing out loud.
I gave this album 4 stars. Its fun, it's unique, it's invaluable for fans and parents. But on a TMBG level, it gets only three stars. I have high standards. It's somewhere between good and average for them.
Still, though...BUY IT.
on September 23, 2002
I'm a long-time fan, having gotten hooked by Lincoln in 1989. I am not the type of fan that thinks everything TMBG produces is gold, and I find that every other album has two songs that I'm not particularly fond of, and two songs that I outright skip to avoid listening to. (Be honest, how often do you find yourself "singing along" to #13 off of Misc. T?)
This album has hit an all time low for me by having an equal number of songs I love, songs I hate, and ones I think are just bland. Here's how the disc stacked up for me:
Fibber Island: Reminiscent of the country-inspired novelty songs on They Might Be Giants. This has backing vocals that could easily be found on a Weird Al Yankovic album. It definitely has a home amongst the stranger songs. :|
Four of Two: A revamped Dial-A-Song tune that has been changed to make it appropriate for younger listeners, and sped up. I prefer the "original," without the tempo changes and keeping the morbid subject nature. :(
Robot Parade: Another Dial-A-Song entry, with good instrumentation and goofy vocal effects on one of the voices. :|
No!: Good TMBG rock, with Linnel's typical vocals, and some of the standard strangeness make this the most listenable so far. :)
Where Do They Make Balloons?: Sort of inspired by Chicago or the Beach Boys in style, with a different lead singer (Danny Weinkauf). This is one of the stronger songs out of all of the tracks. :)
In The Middle, In The Middle, In The Middle: Reminds me of the 45's I listened to in the early 70's (when I was in pre-school). Part of the refrain is straight out of the Muppet Show Theme. :|
Violin: A nonsensical novelty tune, which relies on repeating things over an over. Another that would probably tickle the kids, but is easily skippable. :(
John Lee Supertaster: Funk and Groove similar to S-E-X-X-Y, with sort of a superhero take. Seems to me like a combination of S-E-X-X-Y and Spider, both of which I always skip. :(
The Edison Museum: This is exactly the same as the cut from Long Tall Weekend (available online only), with slightly better fidelity. :|
The House at the Top of the Tree: Carnival music similar to what you find on State Songs. The style of song that repeats the same refrain, each time adding something to the list (sort of like the 12 Days of Christmas). If you like State Songs, you'll like this. (I did.) :)
Clap Your Hands: More 70's Funk, which I'm not partial to. :(
I am Not Your Broom: Short novelty song sung with minimal instrumentation, about a rebellious broom and its owner. :(
Wake Up Call: An instrumental piece with some sampled voice being used as instruments. Not bad at all. :|
I Am A Grocery Bag: Monotone vocals, very short (mercifully short), with an odd instrumentation. :(
Lazyhead and Sleepybones: Mellow rock, reminiscent of Red Elvises. Great instrumentation, the typical vocals for TMBG, and the whole thing works very well. :)
Bed Bed Bed: Reminds me of Whistling in the Dark, crossed with the wild brass interludes from They Might Be Giants (both songs from Flood). This is the kind of tune that can really grow on you, and I find myself liking it more and more each time. :)
Sleepwalkers: Possibly some copyright protection on this track? Every computer I try it in will not rip the song to the hard drive. Xylophones with Bass Clarinet, and Linnel's vocals. Reminds me of the great stuff from Lincoln. Midway through the instrumentation turns to more rock-oriented. A nice way to close the album. :)
Chopping Block Testimonial: Heard this one when I was subscribed to the TMBG Unlimited club. Not bad. :|
The Enhanced CD features are fun, and should be especially popluar with kids.
Overall, I am pretty disappointed in the album, It will stay in my collection, but I am looking forward to their next release to bring them back to what I've grown to love about them: Lots of fun with the occasional dead spot.