Before I even heard “Waiting,” the first new recording by The Dismemberment Plan in over a decade, I was reminded of They Might Be Giants. That was because of The Plan’s initial distribution method for the song; in order to hear it, you needed call a phone number and listen to it as a voicemail greeting. For over twenty years, TMBG ran their own Dial-A-Song service, which did the same exact thing. Once I heard “Waiting” in higher fidelity, the comparisons continued.
The keyboards beep and boop like a cartoon robot. The beat is bouncy, with a mix of live and synthesized instrumentation. The beginning and end contain unothodox samples. The lyrics are clever rhymes taking a different look at the ordinary. All of these things in “Waiting” reminded me of They Might Be Giants, and I’m not the only one. In this interview with Dismemberment Plan frontman Travis Morrison, Dan Weiss describes Uncanney Valley, their forthcoming reunion album as “a dozen They Might Be Giants-esque pop songs.” This excites me for a few reasons.
As they get older, The Dismemberment Plan are getting away from Pixies-like dynamic explosions, shouting, and clever but bitter lyrics that initially drew me to them in college. That doesn’t mean that they’ve slowed down, but focused on other strengths. Foremost among these is a sense of exploration and experimentation. I don’t think there’s a better model for longevity in music through trying different things than They Might Be Giants.
The older I get, the more I find my musical tastes solidifying in a way I swore they never would. I’m more interested in listening to bands I already like as opposed to discovering new sounds. Favorite bands that are always trying to change and push their boundaries is an effective, comforting way to push back against the atrophy.
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