If teaching kids how to be patient -- how to defer gratification until later -- is a useful skill, then the release of Foreverywhere, the debut album from StevenSteven, may be the world's most important parental tool.
Perhaps you think I'm kidding that an album about rainbows and unicorns is the most anticipated album in kids music history? Let me put it this way -- I made a joke about how kindie fans had waited so long for the album that it had become the Chinese Democracy of kids music.
Twice. I'd forgotten that I'd made the joke already.
But here we are, February 24, 2017 -- more than a decade since former Blue's Clues star Steve Burns and Flaming Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd first unleashed upon kids music the world's most awesome tribute to Groundhog Day -- and, yes, Foreverywhere is out in the world and the result is rainbows and unicorns, and in particular, a guitar-shredding Princess Rainbow and a Lonely Unicorn who joins her band, falls in love, loses her, then searches literally the entire universe to find her again.
Honestly, the whole album feels a little bit like that sentence -- epic, heartfelt, and a little rambling at points. (Also, it's meticulously crafted, which is probably more than I can say about the sentence.)
After several listens, I came to think of the album as three EPs smooshed together. There's the science-y, "fact"-based set of songs in the first half -- the fuzzy psych-rock of "Mimic Octopus," the game-show-turned-pop-song "OK Toilet Bowl," and the song guaranteed to put a smile on my face every time I listen to it, "A Fact Is A Gift That You Give Your Brain" -- those are the tracks that will make power-pop fans of any age move their heads to the rhythm. Then there's the goofier and sometimes downright odd takes on kids music tropes in the second half -- "If You're Ginormous And You Know It" features one giant drummer, while "The Happy Then Sad Then Triumphant Spider" takes more than six minutes to tell the tale of one spider, one rain spout, and one sun. (It's like those chorales that take their lyrical inspiration from about 3 lines of Biblical verse.)
And the third set is the epic story of the Lonely Unicorn and his search for Princess Rainbow, which stretches across 3 songs spread through the entire album. If you think six minutes is too long of a song for your favorite 4-year-old, wait 'til you play them the nearly 11-minute closing title track. And I suppose that's where some parents will think, "AWESOME!" and other parents will say, "ARE YOU NUTS?" Personally I am sympathetic to the latter group -- I'm not sure how many younger kids will retain their attention on those longer, somewhat sleepier tracks -- but am pleased that the duo just went for it. (Skip the tracks, go back to "A Fact," if you need the shorter blast.)
You may hear lots of kids music this year, and you may even hear kids music this year you like more than Foreverywhere, but I'm pretty sure you're not going to hear anything like it in kids music this year. There is no small amount of rainbows and unicorns in this album ready to be unleashed upon the world, and, yeah, it was worth the wait. Definitely recommended.
Note: I received a copy of this album for possible review.