White brwon-haired man with glasses singing at a mic with a guitar around his neck and he's pointing up in the air

They Might Be Giants (TMBG) has gained a lot of traction within the last year. With their latest full album “I Like Fun” being in the top 40 charts and an international tour, things are looking better than ever for this band. A discography of 20 full studio albums and an endless dedication to delivering fantastic live shows on a regular basis to their diverse and eclectic fan base, this surge of attention is long overdue for anybody who’s been paying attention.

Personally, listening to every album that has come out as it came out over the past decade and a half, I am not surprised – and quite refreshed – that they gained enough traction to obtain a wider audience. For those not familiar, TMBG has a colorful spectrum of work, from being the creators of the familiar Malcolm In the Middle theme song, kid’s albums, to hyper-politically suggestive and sometimes very dark songs.

All and all, the style of writing is intended to be rather surrealistic and absurdist. They encourage fans to interpret things in their own way because it is more often than not some kind of surrealistic writing technique created for musical purposes, more than anything. Yet, I have to take a hard look at an EP like “The Communists Have the Music” with the accompanying song “I’ve Been Seeing Things,” and wonder exactly how this could be interpreted and what it does mean to me. This stuff has value to it, and behind all of the seemingly playful absurdity, there is some real valuable thought provoking satire at play here in many of their songs. Back from “Your Racist Friend” to the double meanings in “I Can Help the Next In Line” you could interpret as referencing a line as lineage and “I don’t think I like your tone” as skin tone - the racism inherent in the justice system. Give it a listen.

All art should be analyzed not only from the standpoint of the intent and origin – but also as society, definitions, meanings, and the artforms’ medium itself changes in the world. Art is intended to be a fluid and constantly evolving thing, and perhaps the way meaning can evolve in a deconstructionist sort of way is the most beautiful part about it. Music affects people in a very impactful and personal way and its fluidity and ever-changing nature is just as beautiful, fickle, and devastating as life itself. 

Flirtatious lyrics about Communism is hardly shocking in this day and age, with the desire for a more socialistic system ever growing as the class gap widens and rights begin to dwindle away. Something like Communism which was given a bad name simply for propagandist reasons during wartime begins to look really appealing juxtaposed against an intolerant, alienating system that begins to treat its people erring toward a fascist oligarchy.

No doubt, this probably is not an endorsement or suggestion that Communism is the answer, but it is closer to what people are looking for rather than the other forms of government which have seeped into our system.

Fascism has a long history of persecution toward specific groups of people, something everyone knows is happening in the United States, and in fact is a large part of most of our historical background. Not to mention taking away basic rights from people that should be protected. With Donald Trump as president, need anyone explain how similar plutocracy is to how things are right now? In order to run for President, all you need is more money than anyone else to campaign. To have any sort of power, lobbyists. 

Regardless of any intent or origin, having a background of hanging out with crowds from Punk Rockers to Hippies bring to question whether people’s lifestyle choices are simply aesthetic with a lost meaning. And to like Punk or Protest music and dress the part without understanding it – these lyrics can be viewed this way as well.

But deep in our hearts, the accompanying song to this EP – “I’ve Been Seeing Things,” hits our heart strings because we can’t just take things for face value, we like to think about it. This is why we love this band. They make you think, and it takes a lot of effort on their part to do that. Even about what music even is, they have helped mold my ideas. Applause, applause, applause!

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