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on 10 August 2004
OK, OK, so I'm biased. I have been a sad fan of They Might Be Giants for nearly 15 years, ever since they enjoyed UK chart success with the clever Birdhouse In Your Soul. I own all their albums (including the hard-to-get Don't Let's Start b-side compilation), and have seen them live on four (soon to be five) occasions. The temptation, therefore, to award this album five stars, for the sole reason that it's simply Them, is overwhelming; however, I am going to put my allegiances aside, be objective and give this album, well, OK, four stars.
It's good, it's very good, but it's not as good as their previous albums (Lincoln, for example, and their eponymous debut, are classics; and even 2001's Mink Car, which was disliked by a significant percentage of the Giants' fanbase, was excellent).
Please don't get me wrong, The Spine has its moments: Au Contraire, the jolly-polka of Stalk Of Wheat, the typically-Linnell Wearing A Raincoat, and the Radio 2-playlisted Experimental Film. But there's just something lacking, something that I can't quite pin down. Maybe it's because the album, just over an episode of EastEnders long, seems too short; granted, some of their earlier LPs were short, but they seemed to have more fun and ideas crammed into their 30 or 40 minutes.
If you own, and have enjoyed, some of TMBG's earlier efforts, then you won't be dissapointed; but if you've just heard some of their stuff on the radio, and want to discover what they're albums are like, then it might be worth trying another from their extensive back catalogue (or even going to see one of their upcoming UK live shows, as they are - beyond the merest shadow of a doubt - one of the best live acts you will ever see).
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on 26 July 2004
Couldn't wait to get hold of this newest release from the two Johns and as always I was a little unsure what to expect. After the initial first listen, where only a couple of tracks jumped out at me like 'Ba**ard wants to hit me', which I had already heard as a live version, I still wasn't to sure what I made of it. But now after listening to it probably more times than I should of in the space of a few days I would have to say that it's an absolute gem. This is probably their most accessible album ever for potential new fans, without losing any of their quirky style and lyrics. It seems to be ruthlessly short for a giants album, but its still just under fifty minutes and can be enjoyed effortlessly for it. Here's hoping they never get bored of being the best there is at what they do.
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on 15 July 2004
Word. Listen to it, and you'll be like 'Sure, Au Contraire is good but feh! It is ok.' Then you will listen to it again, as it is so short, and it gets better and you think 'Wearing a raincoat is ace!' They you listen to it again (it really is that short) and to use their phrase 'It's kicking in yeah!' And before you know it, it has grabbed you and you can sing along or at least make the right noises to each song and it rocks. They only reason i didn't give it 5 stars is because they have better albums, but this is better than Mink Car and all those crazy eps they have regurgitated recently.
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on 14 February 2005
I'm a massive fan of this band, but I have to be honest - this is appalling. After the pleasant surprise that was Mink Car I was expecting another top album. Sadly not. Not a decent tune in sight. I hope they get back to form on the next one. If not then it's probably time to call it a day.
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on 25 April 2009
There is nothing essential or anything worth a second listen except for 'It's Kicking In' which is reminiscent of 'Mercury Poisoning (live)' by Graham Parker.

Download this song and don't bother with the rest of it.
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