Review: Why? - They Might Be Giants

 They Might Be Giants - Why? album cover

They Might Be Giants - Why? album cover

They Might Be Giants have been making clever and subversive pop music for more than 30 years.  Late last year, they released their second album of 2015, but this one is for kids of all ages.

In the year 2002, They Might Be Giants did something thought to be a little crazy - they released an album for kids.  That record, titled No!, was both a commercial and critical success, and sent the band down an unanticipated path as part-time kids’ music superstars. They then released 3 themed albums through Disney -- one each about letters  numbers  and science -- while continuing to make music for adults.  If you’ve paid any attention to kids music over the past decade, you certainly have run across the band.

Six years after that last kids’ record, the band returned in late 2015 with a new kids’ music album.  Free of a Disney collection, the new album is a spirited, free-form follow-up to No! appropriately titled Why?.

On the song “Out of a Tree,” everybody thinks it’s a disaster that an 8-year-old has gotten stuck in a tree... everyone, that is, except the adventurous 8-year-old himself.  And while the album doesn’t have a specific theme, many songs celebrate kids’ independent streaks.  Of course, sometimes that leads to decisions that aren’t the wisest in retrospect.

Despite the frustration the parent of such a kid might experience, a song like “Definition of Good” shows that sometimes moments of random curiosity spark warm family memories.

The freeform nature of the roughly 40-minute album makes it a little more difficult to nail down a specific target age range, but I'd peg it at about ages 4-10.

Many of the people the band sings about or to on this album question authority and explore the world in messy ways, coming up with answers to new questions.  That attitude is useful for not only 30-year-old rock bands but also much younger listeners -- it’s what helps give me hope that the world’s problems can be tackled head-on.