Here's the Recap: A They Might Be Giants Album Review

Photo courtesy of Shervin Lainez

Alternative rock band They Might Be Giants have spent nearly 40 years experimenting with genre-blending tactics to create a unique experience for their audience. They have pushed those boundaries yet again with BOOK, a collection of 15 songs and a 144-page art book.

The idea to make BOOK stemmed from John Flansburgh’s conversations with frequent collaborator and celebrated graphic designer Paul Sahre.

“Paul and I had talked to a publisher about a visual history of They Might Be Giants in a big coffee-table format,” Flansburgh said in a press release. “It seemed daunting, so I suggested breaking it into smaller, more doable parts. I’ve always been a fan of street photography like Helen Levitt and Robert Frank. That style can complement lyrics very well.”

Through Sahre came Brooklyn street photographer Brian Karlsson. They wanted a single photographer to tell this story, and each song truly comes to life with his input.

“Brian’s work seemed transcendent and in sync with what we were doing,” Flansburgh said. “It was important to me that the project was consistent visually. Too many visual efforts from musicians have a catch-all quality.”

The music from BOOK is bursting with the same energy, melody and inventive songcraft that They Might Be Giants is known for, but this latest effort goes even further, introducing an immersive album experience that blends photography, design and text with music.

This isn’t meant to be a ‘concept project’, but rather an accompanying piece to the album. Flansburgh compared it to an extension of album artwork in a recent interview with Forbes, giving an entirely new perspective on how artists can create different types of art within a single object.

“Nowadays, albums are often just a collection of ones and zeroes,” John Linnell said in a press release. “With BOOK we’re looking to make a more interesting object.”

Another unique piece of BOOK is how they created a story behind the words. Sahre used an IBM Selectric typewriter from the 1970s to create artistic layouts that add a striking new dimension to the reading experience. The lyrics are displayed in various shapes and forms on their respective pages, giving the reader a new way to interpret each song.

With more than 20 studio albums, the trail They Might Be Giants are blazing is still entirely their own. BOOK gives fans a look into the detailed creativity that they’ve had from the start while giving the band the opportunity to visually and cleverly expand their talents.