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Factory Showroom
They Might Be Giants
Factory Showroom
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1

Factory Showroom is the second They Might Be Giants album to feature the Brooklyn duo backed by a full band. The band allows John Linnell and John Flansburgh to parody the pop music of their late '70s and early '80s youth ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: They Might Be Giants
Title: Factory Showroom
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 1
Label: Elektra / Wea
Original Release Date: 10/8/1996
Release Date: 10/8/1996
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Style: Indie & Lo-Fi
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 075596186223

Factory Showroom is the second They Might Be Giants album to feature the Brooklyn duo backed by a full band. The band allows John Linnell and John Flansburgh to parody the pop music of their late '70s and early '80s youth more accurately, and thus, more wittily. On the disco parody, "S-E-X-X-Y," for example, Iggy Pop bassist Hal Cragin supplies a vintage funk bottom, while arranger Kurt Hoffman contributes a Chic-like string chart. When they follow with the new-wave parody, "Till My Head Falls Off," Graham Maby's staccato bass line, Eric Schermerhorn's jittery guitar chords, and Linnell's bleating organ sound just like the Cars. Of course, this raises the question of whether we really need parodies of Chic and the Cars at this late date, especially when the satires resemble the targets too much to be irreverent, but not enough to be their equal. --Geoffrey Himes

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CD Reviews

Zany TMBG genius at its best
Ulysses Lateiner | Somerville, MA United States | 05/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"They Might Be Giants has some great albums, but this one is definitely top of the line. It's one of those magical albums where, after only one or two listenings, you'll already feel like you've heard each song a thousand times before. It's got a lot of the usual TMBG slow-to-medium paced lightweight sillyness (How Can I Sing Like a Girl, Exquisite Dead Guy, Spiraling Shape) but also some faster and heavier tracks that could almost pass for regular rock, if it weren't for the trademark TMBG bizarre lyrics (Till My Head Falls Off, XTC vs. Adam Ant). The electronics on this album are particularly nice (see especially How Can I Sing Like a Girl) and some of the songs are hilariously off-the-wall (such as the musical history lesson / biography James K. Polk and the life-and-death battle of the bands between XTC and Adam Ant). There really aren't any weak spots on the album; I'd highly recommend it as an intro to TMBG or as an addition to your collection."
Another masterpiece from the two Johns
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I don't know that you can really call this album weird, I mean, all of their albums are weird. You kind of wonder if these guys are some mad geniuses that are actually communicating brilliant riddles with:

"Put out your hands and you fall through the window
And clawing at nothing you drop through the void
Your terrified screams are inaudible
Drowned in the spiral ahead and consumed in the shape."

Kind of a cartoon Nietszche feel to it. I think if Charles Manson wasn't a homicidal maniac, he would really dig TMBG. All kidding aside, this album features some of the greatest TMBG songs ever, with cuts like "Till My Head Falls Off," "Spiraling Shape," James K. Polk," and "New York City." If you don't like this album, then you are not a fan of the band and that is OK, I guess. But as an owner of all of their CDs and a person that has seen their incredible live shows on numerous occasions, I just don't see how anybody cannot love them."
A consistently strong, pure pop record
Gena Chereck | Nebraska, USA | 01/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"1996's Factory Showroom, They Might Be Giants' sixth album (their fourth for a major label, their second with a full band), contains just 14 songs, allowing for only a bare minimum of filler. Okay, so "Exquisite Dead Guy" is nowhere near as funny as its title; the disco pastiche "S-E-X-X-Y" (an ode to a transvestite?) sounds like a self-conscious joke; and "Metal Detector" is very cute, but slight and forgettable compared with the remaining tracks...In the raucous yet poignant "Till My Head Falls Off" -- possibly the most "punk" song TMBG have ever done -- John Linnell sings from the perspective of a man who is beset by senility ("Don't interrupt me as I struggle to complete this thought / Have some respect for someone more forgetful than yourself") but won't go down without a fight ("And I'm not done ... Though it may not be a long way off, I won't be done until my head falls off"). In the gentle yet darkly funny "Your Own Worst Enemy," he plays a shut-in who weeps and numbs himself with alcohol, while what may be just a figment of his imagination lurks right outside his home. (And how's this for a chorus: "The song they play is that guy with the messed-up face going, precious and few are the moments that you and your own worst enemy share"?) The lovely, mid-tempo "Spiralling Shape" may well be an anti-drug song, given lines like "Go ahead, wreck your life ... clawing at nothing you drop through the void / Your terrified screams are inaudible ... The spiralling shape will make you go insane." He also contributes a rollicking ode to the accomplishments of president James K. Polk (complete with a "singing saw" solo), and the lush closing track "The Bells Are Ringing" (complete with amazing vocal-layering, and chilling lyrics about mind-control). As for John Flansburgh, he's featured on the disc's most madly inspired moment, "I Can Hear You;" recorded with no electricity on an 1898 Edison wax cylinder recording studio phonograph, the song effectively re-creates the muffled sounds of the airplane phones, door buzzers, and fast-food drive-through intercoms about which he croons. The exuberant "New York City" -- a track written by three women (!) and featuring one of Flansy's sweetest performances -- evokes the joy and the rush of young love. In sharp contrast, the mellow "Pet Name" has him awkwardly fumbling his way toward a relationship ("You say I'm OK for a guy, but I can tell that you are lying / And we've almost figured out how we'll get along / And given time, we'll find it strange to be alone"). "XTC vs. Adam Ant" is not so much about a celebrity deathmatch between the British New Wave acts ("Beatle-based pop versus new-romantic"), as it is about the eternal struggle of "content versus form;" ever the diplomat, he concludes, "There is no right or wrong." (Speaking for myself, I'm more of an XTC gal...) And in the gorgeous (though overlong and repetitive) ballad "How Can I Sing Like a Girl" ("...and not be stigmatized by the rest of the world?"), Flansburgh bemoans the repression of one's talent in the name of seeking society's approval. Overall, Factory Showroom is, thus far, TMBG's most grossly underrated and consistently strong effort. (P.S.: To find the hidden ditty, "Token Back to Brooklyn," cue up track 1, press play, and hold the backwards-skip button ["