They Might Be Giants take a jovial power-pop approach on their new single,” I Left My Body” – the first sample of the duo’s upcoming studio album I Like Fun, out January 19th.
The song is a quick-firing, two-and-a-half-minute barrage of jaunty piano, funky bass and quirky lyrics, as the protagonist recounts exiting his mortal vessel and forgetting where he left it – as if misplacing his car in a packed parking garage. “I left my body and I went on a journey/ And I forgot where I left my body,” John Linnell sings. “They’re gonna tow you if they think you’re abandoned/ You got to act like you’re not abandoned.”
The band’s songwriters and co-founders, Linnell and John Flansburgh, recorded the 15-track LP with their longtime live band: drummer Marty Beller, bassist Danny Weinkauf and lead guitarist Dan Miller. Co-producer-mixer Patrick Dillett (St. Vincent, the National, Donald Fagen) helped track the album at New York City’s newly created Reservoir Studios, formerly Skyline Studios, where the group tracked their signature, platinum-selling 1990 record, Flood.
“It has a lot of great memories for us,” Flansburgh says of the studio. “For a while, it was going through some unlikely owners and the place kind of lost its vibe. But last year our producer Pat Dillett and his partner Steve took over the space, brought it back and in a bunch of ways made it even better. I know believing a studio has any kind of special power is believing in voodoo, but when the voodoo is working for you, that’s okay!”
Flansburgh says the album took about one year to record, something that “surprises me because I wouldn’t say we fussed over any particular track that much.” But he says the band purposely reverted back to dated productions to achieve their desired sound.
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“This album is kind of under-produced for us and certainly by 2017 standards,” he says. “It’s more like a 1960s psychedelic production with a featured sound or instrument, maybe a vocal double, but not a ton of overdubs or processing. For me, just being a little more confident to keep things simple keeps it all much fresher. We just made a lot of recordings and just took advantage of being able to pull the best set out of a much larger stack.”
I Like Fun follows They Might Be Giants’ 2016 compilation set, Phone Power, their third and final release featuring songs from their recently revived answering machine service Dial-A-Song. The group will release new music on a weekly basis throughout 2018 via the toll-free Dial-A-Song phone number (844-387-6962) and website, along with major streaming sites.
More than 30 years after the release of their self-titled debut album, Flansburgh tells Rolling Stone one key to their longevity. “There’s not a lot of job security in music. You see how quick the best acts you’ve ever seen explode or implode and you come to realize every turn is really a chance to crash the project,” he says. “Somehow we beat the odds. A long time ago, the Onion had a piece spoofing the Behind the Music of They Might Be Giants and how disappointing it was that there was no sex or drugs. But maybe that’s not the worst strategy – don’t take drugs in public.”