Happy 25th: They Might Be Giants, APOLLO 18

Friday, March 24, 2017
Happy 25th: They Might Be Giants, APOLLO 18

25 years ago today, They Might Be Giants released their fourth studio album, one which took its name from a NASA mission that never actually took place.

No, there was no Apollo 18. Well, not one by NASA, anyway. But John Linnell and John Flansburgh took care of that omission with the results of the time they spent in The Magic Shop recording studio in New York in March 1991. Mind you, it’s not as impressive as seeing a whale and a squid battling in outer space, which – based on the album cover – we can only presume is what NASA’s plans for Apollo 18 had been, but it’s still got some great material contained within its grooves.

Elektra Records had originally reached out to Elvis Costello in hopes of having him produce the album, but Linnell and Flansburgh opted to twiddle the knobs on APOLLO 18 themselves. The resulting album wasn’t quite as cheery as its predecessor, FLOOD, but it won airplay with songs like “The Statue Got Me High,” “The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight),” and “I Palindrome I,” and it fascinated fans with its “Fingertips” suite, which featured 21 songs all under 30 seconds in length.

Although acclaimed, APOLLO 18 didn’t win over the mainstream the way FLOOD did, only hitting #99 on the Billboard 200, both critics and They Might Be Giants fans fell for it without hesitation. By the time the band released their next album, JOHN HENRY, two years later, the cult of TMBG was substantial enough that the band secured the highest chart placement of their career.