Here's a sign of how oddball a CD is: when you cover a Talking Heads song on your kids' album, and it might just be the least weird song on there.
Thank You For Joining the Happy Club is an oddball CD, and I mean that as a high form of praise. It's the debut kids' CD from central Pennsylvania's Billy Kelly, and it's totally winning in its goofiness. How goofy? Try this, a snippet of animation for "People Really Like Milk":
And it goes on like that ("People really like drinking / From a really big thing that goes moo"), getting sillier all the while. It is a novelty song, perhaps, but it is a perfectly-constructed and produced one, possibly my favorite song of the year. The rest of the CD follows that pop-rock template, if not quite reaching those giddy heights. The title track invites you to "tell your dog the join the happy club" (with a perfectly timed woof) while having the background singers provide the "doo-doo-doos" after Kelly sings that "there aren't any dues." While the hyper (and genre-jumping) "I Don't Know!" sounds like early They Might Be Giants, most have the tracks have a warmer, usually joyous Barenaked Ladies vibe, particularly on songs like "Springtime: It's My Favorite" and "(Let Me Tell You) What I Like About You." And, yes, there's a Talking Heads chestnut, "Don't Worry About the Government," which in its straightforward reading is OK for kids, if a bit mystifying for them. (Hey, at least it's not "Stay Up Late.") Kelly and his band, the Blah Blah Blahs, make an appealing sound together; I particularly enjoyed the guitar work, which reminded me a bit of Adrian Belew in spots.
Now, there's no good reason to have two self-referential songs about song construction -- one is plenty for a kids' album (one is probably plenty for any album). And Kelly has a tendency to resort to spelling in his lyrics. (I'll admit, though, that the song title "S-N-O-W-M-A-N (Snowman!)" is pretty funny.) You take the good with the overdone good, I suppose.
Thank You for Joining the Happy Club is an album for slightly older kids, those who enjoy snappy wordplay and goofy imagery. I could see younger kids being puzzled by the hullabaloo and it's a bit too cute by half at points, but I think there are going to be some families who absolutely love love love this disk. Join the Happy Club? Sure, I did -- I might even run for president. Definitely recommended.