Live preview: They Might Be Giants

After nearly 30 years of spirited dabbling, the duo retains its appetite for variety.

They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants Photograph: Courtesy Girlie Action

It doesn't take long to figure out that the new They Might Be Giants album isn't one of the New York duo's family-friendly efforts. "I was outnumbered a million to one," John Linnell sings over a crisp power-pop groove. "All of the dicks in this dick town can't keep Johnny down." That's the first line in the first song on Join Us; elsewhere, Linnell and his longtime partner, John Flansburgh, ponder romantic entrapment ("Judy Is Your Viet Nam"), an enemy's life expectancy ("When Will You Die") and, perhaps most waggishly, "pain in the form of a raindrop" ("Cloisonn").

As usual, though, the Giants attack this adult-minded material with an energy and enthusiasm no less contagious than when they're selling the ABCs and 123s. And it's a kick to hear that after nearly 30 years of spirited dabbling, their appetite for variety remains unsatisfied: Beyond the guitar-heavy likes of "Can't Keep Johnny Down" and "Let Your Hair Hang Down," Join Us contains convincing forays into acoustic folk-rock, squelchy electropop and horn-equipped R&B. There's even a bit of drum-machine oompah, complete with klezmer-style coda.

For this free show, early in the band's extensive North American tour, they'll be joined by Eugene Mirman's local indie-comedy troupe Pretty Good Friends; guest appearances are promised by Patton Oswalt, Todd Barry, Kristen Schaal and others.

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