The last time John Linnell and John Flansburgh released an album for grown-ups, 2007's The Else, it was one of their most aggressively rock-centric to date. This time, they've gone more playfully experimental, from the sunny lead track, "Can't Keep Johnny Down," to the sly, strutty cabaret joint "Cloisonné." "Old Pine Box" seizes Simon and Garfunkelian acoustic jangle, and "Canajoharie" has one of Linnell's catchiest choruses ever. And while Join Us is lighter on lyrical surrealism than earlier TMBG, it delivers on their well-known gleeful morbidity: "You wreck everything you touch, and you're a sociopath," they sing on "When Will You Die," surely the year's most satisfying hate-on.
Listen to "Canajoharie":