I know already did a review of Jungle Gym, the latest album from Justin Roberts on NPR's All Things Considered. That is my review of the album and if you haven't heard it, I encourage you to do so. (It was written with the musical interludes in mind -- it's much better on the air than on the page.)
But.... with these NPR reviews, the time is limited and I can't go into as much detail as I would on the written page. So consider these the deleted scenes, perhaps. Just as good, just doesn't fit into 4 1/2 minutes.
-- The first three tracks are as strong an opening set of songs as you'll hear on any kids pop/rock record anywhere. They're also probably as strong an opening set of songs as you'll hear on any pop/rock record anywhere.
-- I can't quite express how much I love "Trick or Treat." I'm not the first person, but the ten or so seconds of music involved with the line "My brother stands on a chair 'cause he's shorter / Put every piece in alphabetical order" is so perfectly constructed that it is, without a doubt, my favorite musical bit this year.
-- While Roberts has written some classic slower songs, I don't think they're quite as strong here. "2 x 4" is a sweet little album closer about a treehouse, and "Never Getting Lost" has a dramatic arc for both the child and adult listener, but "Sign My Cast" doesn't do a lot. They're not bad songs, they just don't quite have the power of the uptempo tracks.
-- I would like Liam Davis to produce the next New Pornographers record. Thanks in advance, universe, for making this happen.
-- The album will appeal thematically the most to kids agest 5 through 9.
-- I go back and forth as to whether Jungle Gym or Meltdown! is my favorite Justin Roberts album. Which is sort of like trying to decide whether Exile on Main Street or Let It Bleed is your favorite Rolling Stones album. They're both classics...
-- Highly recommended.