Highlights: You’re On Fire, Lost My Mind, Stone Cold Coup d’Etat, 9 Secret Steps, The Darlings Of Lumberland
The first thing I should mention is that it’s one awful cover. Whatever their idea was, it looks atrocious – even that cartoonish pink truck on 2011’s Join Us made more sense. Or, at the very least, was easier on the eye. Well, never mind; nothing wrong with the actual music. Nanobots is a perfectly adequate They Might Be Giants album. Catchy, playful, slightly ridiculous. And when it’s not too ridiculous – it works.
Like pretty much any other album from the band, this is filled with fine tunes, all memorable and quite inventive, even if there’s precious little here I would include on my imaginary They Might Be Giant playlist. “Lost My Mind” would probably qualify; a pretty standard pop number for the band, but there’s just something particularly inspired about that stop-start melody. Many others are just as infectious, of course, like “Stone Cold Coup d’Etat” or the album’s most interesting and intriguing piece, “The Darlings Of Lumberland”. Plus, lots of their trademark quirkiness, which can be both annoying and entertaining. For instance, I find “Black Ops” well-done and creative, but vocally irritating; on the other hand, all those short under-minute bits and breathers make sense and show the duo’s great care for melody.
I don’t regard Nanobots as an improvement over Join Us, but I’ve warmed up to it a lot. In the end, it’s just another solid They Might Be Giants album. Solid, reliable stuff, even if Nanobots would probably only appeal to the fans.