Talk:To A Forest
They Might being MOR/And a muse on the muse/Discussion of TMBG Direction
For all those that accuse me of rambling on - well this post is certainly that. Hopefully will provoke an interesting correspondence!
MOR Giants, that reminds me a bit of XTC musically. There's something else too, but I can't quite place it. Lyrically it's insipid. Oblique references here there and everywhere I think it's as much that Flans wants to sing prettily over the acoustic guitar and it doesn't really matter what it's about. I quite like the keyboard(?) backing, but lyrically an example of how they're both going backwards. Producing so many songs over the year means that it's inevitable that you get these workmanlike songs. Hard to dislike but forgettable. It joins a lot of their new material that I won't listen to again, or bother to download.
Play this song and then compare it to the early stuff, where every arrangement to every song was designed to subvert or surprise and it's disappointing. I don't mind it. It's not dislikable but the band these days could be any middle aged middle of the road pop band. That the Giants were always the band to subvert this is what makes it disappointing. It could be Roxette! They've done amazingly well in keeping new material vital far longer than their contemporaries: REM, Morrissey, The Chilli Peppers ect, but it's all rather comfortable Dadrock too often these days. This is something that all bands working for a prolonged period in pop music hit and usually a lot earlier than the Giants. The Beatles were untouchable in 66-70. A mere 5 years later they were as solo artists patchy and at times woeful. Bowie's been patchy for 30 years. Pink Floyd ditto. Dylan's last good album was Blood on the Tracks. Black Francis wrote some amazing albums in the Pixies and then after two good solo albums produced the most workmanlike pub-rock for pushing 20 years before a partial return to form with Pixies Mk2. Morrissey, as his unreadable novel recently testifies, is now a parody of himself and his last good album was in the last century. Most of our heroes produce substandard stuff for longer than they write the gold! It's a weird one really, all of the above were probably better musicians the longer they went on, more experienced in the studio and yet song writing seems to trail off. I wonder if the Giants really know what they want to write about anymore? Flans in particular seems to struggle for subject matter. The early albums are really post-modern takes on love and being slaves to the wage. Do artists get too comfortable? Can they make "artistic" comebacks: Black Francis and Kim Deal's recent stuff has been a marked improvement; Johnny Cash did (although not quite to the extent that some argue); Paul Simon still makes some good stuff...
Of the new Giants material, I've only really listened too: All The Lazy boyfriends, Glean (the song) and No Cops (which reminds me of State Songs - and is lyrically very clever). It's been disappointing because Nanobots although patchy did have 3 songs that are up there with the best (You're on Fire; Sleep; Too Tall Girl) whereas nothing of the recent crop is in that league. Perhaps it was an "artistic" mistake to release so much. Have they diluted themselves? The elephant in the room is the band. It's changed the dynamic of the two Johns I think. You get the impression that They Might be Giants are:
1. Flans and the Band. (you notice this 'Live' when on more recent Flans songs, Linnell appears to have little to do.) 2. Linnell (solo) using the rest as back up. (you notice this Live when the band are reduced to playing chopped "Giant" chords to give them something to do) 3. Lindell's bored singing voice - Only Live. Flans always gives 100% Linnell has patches of being bored at every live show I've seen in the last ten years. Don't believe me, listen to the Flood Live album. We want a rock is a good example of this 4. Now and again John and John (this used to be where the magic was - now it's the bit where the Avatars of They ruin the show) 5. They basically produce there own stuff. (no Bill Krauss or Winstanley and Langer as critical voices)
As a duo, both live and in the studio they had to find solutions to not having a band which I think made them unique. The broad warmth of the accordion, played at times like a rhythm guitar was for me the key. Linnell's over-reliance on electronic keyboards and retreat into oblique lyrics determined to reveal nothing is as much as a "problem" as Flans Dadrock tendencies. For the next project the band need consider recording without the full band and getting a producer to provide a critical voice.
Mr. Tuck, I appreciate your analysis very much but I find that I disagree with about 99% of your opinions on the Giants. I think this song is very enjoyable, fun to listen to, and relatively dissonant paired with the cryptic and eerie lyrics. IMO, this song isn't the best that the Giants have done, but it's seriously a blast to listen to. Even something simple like the guitar break in the middle of the song sounds very charming.
It's also funny that your favorite songs from this year's DAS are some of my least favorites. I think this year has had a lot of wonderful top-notch songs like Erase, Answer, Unpronounceable, End of the Rope, Trouble Awful Evil Devil, and Music Jail. I would emphatically disagree that the Giants no longer make strong material or are running out of ideas. I think this year has been very creative and productive.
That's just one fan's opinion. I wanted to add in a positive one to counterbalance yours! (fanpersonthathappenstolovetheymightbegiants) 09:12, October 20, 2015
- Fair points. Good to get a discussion going! Interesting how few posters like No Cops, I love it! (mr Tuck)
TOTAL and COMPLETE Disagreement
Tuck, not only do I disagree with your analysis of TMBG's recent output (which I'm guessing includes a dislike of most of They're music since John Henry?) but I believe you are completely off-base when it comes to your criticism of nearly every band or artist you mentioned above! I don't even know where to begin... Bob Dylan, for starters, has consistently recorded consummate, career-defining masterpieces or near-masterpieces since the late 90s. Black Francis is still vital and always has been... I mean, I don't get it, are you just against artist maturity and evolution?
Not so on John Henry. I liked the Spine. I think Venue Songs is my favourite of recent years, mainly as they weren't over produced and they were all around that two minute mark. I've liked most of the lead songs of recent albums too: I'm Impressed; Can't Keep Johnny Down...Will have to agree to disagree on Dylan. As for Black Francis, I liked a lot of the last Pixies album, but I don't think anyone really rates much of his solo stuff post Teenager of the Year. I kept the faith for a while, but I had admit defeat in the end. As for the artist maturity and evolution, I think much of my ramblings (I'm in bed with flu! hence the long post!) is about how there isn't much in the way of maturity. Most would argue that Lennon and McCartney peaked in the Beatles and declined (albeit with some good songs here and there) in their solo years. When was the last decent McCartney album? Lennon peaked in his solo career with Imagine ect. Maybe Paul Simon is the one who has gone through all the stages to mature artist? I think he's under-rated. Much of my original post was how tough it for bands and writers to sustain the quality. I think the Giants have done better than most, there's always something I like, but I think Glean is the weakest thing they've done.(Mr Tuck)
I feel like all these discussion pages have degenerated into essay-length critical reviews by Tuck with the rest of the community weighing in after to defend what they like about TMBG. I also feel like the same back-and-forth is happening each time. Tuck's got his talking points in the review, the community has theirs, eventually everyone gets a little defensive... I don't understand the value of it. Does every DAS Direct song discussion page have to say "Linnell by the numbers" and "Flans full-band MOR" and "There's been no critical voice since Bill Krauss?" etc etc? I'm not even questioning the validity of the above statements, even though I think they are simplistic, based on unfounded assumptions, and *should* be called into question. I'm just wondering why *every single discussion page* has to have these same-ish, essay-length criticisms for songs that aren't even twelve hours old?
I've noticed that when I don't post it can get sparse. I'm not defensive. I agree with you saying I am repetitive, but when you're doing a weekly review it's hard not too. I mean even if I liked this song (and I don't dislike it) it would be fair comment to say it's middle of the road? He's had a few like this, so I need to find another way of saying it. Far cop on Bill Krauss. I'm a big fan! He needs mentioning! :-) (Mr Tuck)
Listen, I respect your opinions, I really do, and I appreciate and always get involved in the discussion. Maybe there should be a "Reviews" section on the wiki, or something. Personally, when I go to the discussion page, I do it to read stuff about, you know, speculation on different versions, or which drum machine might have been used on the track, I don't know. All of these DAS Direct Discussions just seem like clutter after awhile. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 126.96.36.199 (talk) 11:09, October 20, 2015
- For what it's worth, I don't let Mr. Tuck's comments get to me anymore. He has been making the same general points (in a rather off-putting music-critic-like voice) for years. With a new song to listen to every week, he feels compelled to reiterate those points, sprinkled with a few brief references to the current song. Initially I was irritated by it and wanted to defend TMBG, but I realize that no matter what any of us say, he will most likely continue to do it. In the end it really doesn't matter - I have enjoyed most of the new material this year, in spite of his numerous "horizontal"      arguments. Plus, does anyone really expect either John to read this stuff and go, "Oh no, we're not satisfying a few longtime fans--get the tape machine out of mothballs, get Bill Krauss on the phone! We have to be authentic again!" I think their current output is largely delightful and we are extremely spoiled as fans to have so much new fodder to chew on. --MisterMe (talk) 11:07, 21 October 2015 (EDT)
Lols. I wish they would! I don't really expect them to break out the drum machines again (though I think we'd all like the odd retro one). I think my big thing is I'd like more accordion, banjo and sax and a lot less electronic keyboards. I guess I like the left field stuff more and resent the MOR stuff because for me (and it's only my opinion) they stop being the Giants when they do this. I would also add that everyone loves my reviews! (Mr Tuck)
- Technically, they don't qualify as "reviews"; they're borderline threadcrap, and nobody loves them. I think you ought to start your own blog, something like "TMBG [probably] sucks", and just compile your thoughts there. This way, anyone with the burning desire to read through repetitive, inconsistent, get-off-my-lawn rants about the latter versus early days of TMBG would have the opportunity to do so.
- Oh, right, I forgot to mention, it's only my opinion.
Cutting. (Mr Tuck)