Phoning It In: “The Velvet Ape” and “I Am Invisible”


They Might Be Giants have resurrected their ingenious Dial-A-Song concept by streaming a new song each week of 2015 at MAGNET’s Matthew Fritch reviews them all.

Clearly, Phoning It In is on a summer schedule. Which is a total cop-out for nobody minding the store. What is this, Europe?

On the other hand, why does publishing dictate the rigor of a daily/weekly/monthly product? Obviously, hard news outlets benefit. For the rest of us, it’s filling up an empty garbage bag with other garbage bags during the slow times. Can you imagine being a sportswriter and having to slobber over the NBA Summer League? Why doesn’t Premiere magazine publish eight issues a week during blockbuster season? I’d like to get four New Yorkers in one day if it pleases David Sedaris, then wait three months for the next one. What happens when the album-release schedule looks thin in January? You get shoegaze retrospectives and stuff like this. Don’t you like shoegaze? Only Bob Ross paints a picture on the clock. Real creative life gets one of those melting-hand clocks, and childhood and recess and pool parties are fast and slow at the same time. Who’s to argue that time is more subjective than the duration of the Earth circling the sun? Who has taken up that (insane, anthropocentric) mantle?

That was weird. So much weirder than criticizing songs on the internet under my own name. “The Velvet Ape” is interesting—it’s either about a pillow fight or the seductive evil of ’70s soft rock—but you can’t convince me it’s a good song, or one that rewards multiple listens. “I Am Invisible,” however, is the first winner of Dial-A-Song’s second half. It has momentum and melody and tackles the tough questions about invisible men: issues with the digestive tract, practical joke ideas, etc. It’s smart and funny. This morning, I passed a woman on the street wearing a T-shirt with the word “meh” printed on it. This is our culture of humor now. If you are that woman, please just wear a plain T-shirt next time.

“The Velvet Ape”: 3/10
“I Am Invisible”: 9/10