Talk:Madam, I Challenge You To A Duel

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They Might Be...Wings?[edit | edit source]

Quality control must be difficult when you've committed yourself to a track a week for a year, but it's disappointing to see such a clunker as Madam, I Challenge You To A Duel being Flansburgh's opener after Linnell's solid debut last week. Musically, it's reminiscent of Wings at their worst. The ludicrous subject matter doesn't help as the lyrics (and the plodding melody) make the song better suited as a one off joke. Flans (like with the equally dire Black Ops from Nanobots) leaves himself terribly exposed on this track. Whereas McCartney (in his pomp) or Thom Yorke can get away singing weak lyrics because of their beautiful voices, Flans simply hasn't got the range to make something of this song; potentially something could have been salvaged if his wife had sung it. However, if they'd done that, the song would have sounded even more like a off-cut tune for a off-off-Broadway musical that closed after a week. One wonders where the critical voice in the band is these days. Something as self indulgent (and dare I say it middle of the road) would not have seen the light of day in the late 80s/early 90s... (Mr Tuck)

This might sound more negative than I want it to but I think the band has always put out some songs that, when standing up to the scrutiny given to new releases, may appear half-baked. It's just in hindsight we're more accepting, and in the case of the 80's romanticizing of the less-developed stuff they've done. But compared to the days of TMBG Unlimited, this is very much not any sort of decline in quality. I think it's really quite nicer sounding than the stuff that was coming out then because it has a lovely, rich, full band sound to it. I was expecting a quality drop after Erase and this is rather more listenable than I predicted, personally. -- Sonderling (talk) 09:19, 13 January 2015 (EST)
Funny that you, and a few other people, have voiced opinions like this; I personally like "Madam" a lot more than "Erase". Even though the latter's lyrics are a lot more complex, I find the melody of "Madam" much more engaging and I find the lyrics to be pretty clever, too. This song doesn't strike me as self-indulgent; it sounds unmistakably TMBG. I'm looking forward to future weeks. ~ veggieman 10:37, 13 January 2015 (EST)
I don't think you're negative Sonderling. I'm the one being negative! You're obviously an uberfan (most of us are on this site after all), however I don't mind being a bit more critical. I've just had another listen and it was a struggle to get through it again. I won't be downloading this one. It really does remind me of a weak Wings track (it's the production and the piano I think). As to the romanticising well, I disagree, as I think this is where Flans was a more consistent song writer. Lyrically I prefer him when he's got a more direct lyric on songs like Puppethead; The Day; Snowball in Hell; Twistin' and Night Security (the Mono Puff masterpiece!) or more recently Damn Good Times; C is for Conifers.
Re-reading your review Sonderling I suspect you want to want to like it rather than actually liking it. This tune joins the likes of "Dogwalker" (the worst song on a proper Giants release); Black Ops; Circular Karate Chop; Insect Hospital Sometimes a Lonely Way and Didn't Kill Me as recent examples of Flans songs I really can't stand! I think a big criticism I have of these tunes is as much the weak lyrics and MOR tendencies than anything else. He can still do it: Too Tall Girl is a great song, and I think he's pretty good on the Kids stuff (where he has a theme to inspire him). I'm glad veggie man like it and I do agree it sounds like the Giants, but on it's merits we must disagree. (Mr Tuck)
tuck, usually i can appreciate your criticisms but i'm just not seeing this one. seems like sometimes you can be overly harsh on the ol' flans. for one thing, i don't think "Dog Walker" and "Didn't Kill Me" are so bad. they're interesting experiments, if a little forced. "Circular Karate Chop" is one i really enjoy! but, more to the point—i don't think you're giving "Madam" enough credit. i don't really think the lyrics are "ludicrous" any more than, say, "Night Security" (which i agree is Mono Puff at their best). i really like flans's idea of taking chivalry or honor to such an extreme that it becomes subverted. the music is a little uneventful and childish (naive, perhaps? which is perfect for the song's subject matter), but clocking in at just under 2 minutes it can hardly be said to overstay its welcome. "Erase", on the other hand, while a fun listen with an engaging vocal performance, seems to me, lyrically, like Linnell pushing too hard on his old favorite—death—without much reason for doing so. anyway, sorry you can't get what i'm getting out of this one! hopefully flans will pull out some tracks that we can all enjoy by the end of the year. after all, he'll probably have at least 26 opportunities to do so. Apollo (colloquia!) 14:29, 13 January 2015 (EST)
Hi Apollo! I think you make some valid points. I am harsher on Flans as I think his more recent output is more erratic than the more consistent Linnell so when Flans is good he is very very good and when he is bad he is horrid! You make a fair point on Erase, which if you look at my review on this site I describe as a bit "Giants by numbers" it's far more listenable though. I also agree with Linnell being a bit of a misery guts!
The one thing I will say for Flans, unconnected to this song, is that without his energy, optimism and drive the Giants would have struggled to have thrived after they were dropped by Electra. I have huge admiration for him and having met him (once for about 2 minutes - he avoided telling me why the UK version of Mink Car was different to the US one!) he was charming. Likewise, I think sometimes people forget that the Giants are my favourite band and apart from the 2001 Unlimited Stuff I pretty much own everything, including the solo stuff and (even Linnell playing on Vega ect). I've seen them a stack of time (twice in the US, despite being from the UK) so I am a big fan, I'm just a bit more critical. These are just my opinions, I'm glad others enjoy this song, though I defy anyone to enjoy Dog walker! (Mr Tuck)
Hmm...may I suggest giving these songs a little more time in your head before rushing to judgment on them? It only just came out, perhaps listen to it a few more times and let it marinate. You can't expect the guy to write "Puppet Head" over and over for 30 years, right? I personally think it's an enjoyable little ditty, not a major entry in the vast TMBG canon, but not as bad as you seem to think. Plus, like someone else said, he has all year to come up with some winners here. --107.72.164.61 23:29, 13 January 2015 (EST)
[obligatory pointing out of the fact that Puppet Head is only a half-Flans song cos Linnell wrote the music and title/chorus] --Self Called Nowhere (talk) 00:06, 14 January 2015 (EST)

One Last Thing[edit | edit source]

Is the piano similar in parts until "Let 'Em In" by Wings? (Mr Tuck)

i can hear what you mean in that song. i don't know much about theory, but i think it's just a simple sort of piano part that's bound to recur. Apollo (colloquia!) 19:46, 13 January 2015 (EST)