Long after They Might Be Giants slid from rock's b-list, 2002 was a year of unexpected breakthrough. They won a Grammy for "Boss of Me," the theme song from Malcolm in the Middle. They followed it up with the fresh No!, which was ostensibly a children's album.
Spine returns to the by-the-numbers tomfoolery the band wallowed in before its detour to the nursery. Here, the Johns' musical growth is minimal but significant. They've never been as aggressive as they are in the foot-stomper "Damn Good Times" or as groovy as they are in the jazzy "Au Contraire." And "Museum of Idiots" is, without a doubt, the best pop-music brass waltz you'll hear this year. -- D.X. Ferris