I've heard various things by TMBG here and there over the years, including some of their children-targeted stuff, and always had a bit of a "sensible chuckle" sort of reaction to their brand of whimsical-ness; not negative/I tend to find it at least somewhat enjoyable but not compelling enough for me to dig deeply into their material. So I looked forward to listening attentively through Lincoln in its entirety. The songs are short and digestible but extremely dense in content and, yes, whimsicality -- not only in the lyrics but also in the musicality/instrumental parts, unique timbres and weird noises, which I found perhaps most surprising -- how intriguing and creative the music itself is. I think to some extent I had almost written TMBG off as gimmicky and silly, representative of a particular time and genre of nerd culture that I tend to cringe at, but I tried to approach this album without any of that a posteriori jaded mindset lol, and listen on its own terms, and it proved quite a fun experience.
It was really quite musically rich and full of surprises, and overall I enjoyed it quite a lot as every track painted a new elaborate picture and on the first listen I never really knew what was coming next. On a second listen I focused a little more on lyrics to fill in more pieces and was fascinated by a lot of the themes and wordplay, it's really impressively dense with clever tidbits. I was surprised by how dark and insightful a lot of the writing is -- definitely not just silly.
I only had some passing prior familiarity with a couple tracks; "Ana Ng" I believe I'd heard and is quite catchy, and most notably "Shoehorn with Teeth" I had heard a cover of in an album by humorous-nerd-acappella-group Da Vinci's Notebook I had as a kid and had thought it was hilarious, so that was a fun nostalgic tidbit.
Other highlights: the various noises and instruments on "Cowtown", the playful vocals at the end of "Purple Toupee" as well as its lyrical themes, the clever phonetic wordplay dense with references such as in "Cage and Aquarium" and "Mr. Me", the instrumental parts of "Where Your Eyes Don't Go", the jazzy vibe of "The World's Address", the total stylistic whiplash of "You'll Miss Me", the banjo(?) in "Stand On Your Head"
Final verdict, this was quite an enjoyable and impressive album and while it hasn't quite reached the tier of "I want to listen to them more regularly" it definitely contributed to a greater understanding of why this is seen as such an iconic and influential band. The songs were unique and held my interest, and certainly did some things that would have been very innovative when this came out. I admire their ability to switch between musical styles to match the theme of each song. One aspect that still holds me back is something about the lead singer's vocal style and articulation, which is typically a hurdle I can overcome with enough listens anyway if I enjoy the rest of the music, which I do. Thanks spf!
I'd like to make an effort to check out some of the other subbed albums though it may be longer before I get to many of them (and with a new week already starting a backlog will pile up lol plus I should prioritize walrus judging). I'm already quite familiar with Get to Heaven as well as October Language which I can both vouch for being awesome. I know just enough material by Thank You Scientist, Steve Roach, Jeff Rosenstock, and Powderfinger to look forward to those in particular.