At first glance, it's hard to figure out for whom "A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants" was made. Yes, for longtime fans it's a stroll down memory lane that draws in early favorites ("She's An Angel," "Don't Let's Start," "Ana Ng"), the best from the breakthrough Flood, and songs released closer to the present day. But Giant fanatics already own these songs and more. Moreover, much of their catalog was released less than three years ago on Dial-A-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants. Yes, the package includes some fun facts about the band (a completeish list of concert dates played, etc.) and features clever UPC code-themed cover art, but it would take a pretty high level of devotion to open one's wallet for that alone. To repeat: who, at this point, needs a users guide to TMBG?
The answer: the kids. It may turn out that the Johns aren't just musical talents, but diabolical marketing geniuses as well. Most bands try to stay in touch with today's youth through wardrobe and behavior, but TMBG has been winning new devotees at an early age via their children's albums, No! and Here Come the ABCs. By now their first wave of child fans should be ready for something a little more grown-up, and A User's Guide stands ready to provide a quick musical sampler of TMBG’s best. Only time will tell if kiddie music is a gateway to ‘90s alterna-pop, but if the gambit is successful we'll surely see Pearl Jam's (Going On) Ten and Liz Phair's Exile In Playdatesville in stores soon. --Leah Weathersby