Nanobots (album)

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Nanobots TMBG.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 5, 2013
RecordedMarch–December 19, 2012
StudioPatrick Dillett's studio in Manhattan, Collyer Brothers Studio in Brooklyn, and The Governor's Bluff in Sullivan County
GenreAlternative rock, art pop
LabelIdlewild (US)
Lojinx (EU)
Breakaway (AU)
ProducerPatrick Dillett
They Might Be Giants chronology
Album Raises New And Troubling Questions

Nanobots is the sixteenth studio album from Brooklyn-based alternative rock group They Might Be Giants. Uncharacteristically for the band, the album's title comes from an album track, as the second track shares a title with the album.[1] The album was released on March 5, 2013 on Idlewild Recordings — the band's independent imprint — with Megaforce Records in the US.[2][3] The album was also separately released on March 8 in Australia through Breakaway Records and on March 11 in Europe, through Lojinx.[4][5][6] One week before its physical release, Nanobots was released digitally for streaming in its entirety through the band's SoundCloud, announced by Rolling Stone.[7][8] Prior to this, "Call You Mom", "Black Ops" and "Lost My Mind" were released through the advance digital Nanobots EP in January 2013. The EP, released through and iTunes, was met with fairly positive responses.[9][10]


The album, which contains 25 tracks and runs approximately 45 minutes,[11] was recorded in Manhattan and produced by Patrick Dillett.[12] The relatively short run time is accounted for by the fact that the album includes many of what band member John Flansburgh describes as "extremely short songs". Flansburgh adds that "...the songs kind of stand alone. When you listen to the album alone, it has this manic pacing to it with the short songs. It makes for a different kind of listening experience."[13] John Linnell commented that these songs were naturally written as short songs to avoid over-populating them with unnecessary verses and choruses.[14] This distinguishes them from the "Fingertips" suite of songs under one minute long on Apollo 18, as those songs were written specifically with brevity in mind, and were described by Linnell as having been "hyper-arranged".[15]


Artwork for Nanobots was designed by Paul Sahre, using collages by artist Sam Weber.[16] Throughout the album artwork, four of Weber's collages are used: Ingres, Hansel, Jester(clown), and Blue Beard 2.[17] The same style was used for the promotional Nanobots EP. The first of these collages, Ingres (prominently featuring the painting The Princesse de Broglie by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres), is used as the album's cover art. The collages were described by Christopher R. Weingarten for Spin as "Max-Ernst-gone-Saw".[18]


Before the release of the full album, two tracks from the album were released digitally. "Call You Mom" and "You're on Fire" were made available through Rolling Stone and Stereogum, respectively, in the winter preceding the album's release.[19] A full week before the album's official release date, the entire album was also uploaded to TMBG's SoundCloud.[7] Further emphasizing the availability of free music via the Internet, the band also released a mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The app, which is updated daily, allows the user to stream five They Might Be Giants tracks at a time.[20]

They Might Be Giants played an international tour in support of Nanobots. The tour included shows in North America and Australia.[20] The band also performed in the United Kingdom and Germany during the tour.[21]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Metacritic69 (8 reviews)[22]
Review scores
Allmusic3.5/5 stars[23]
Consequence of SoundC– [24]
Robert Christgau(B+)[26]
NME2.5/5 stars[27]

Nanobots has garnered generally positive reviews from critics. It has received an aggregate score of 69 (based on 8 reviews) on Metacritic.[22] Both Heather Phares, writing for Allmusic, and Steven Arroyo for Consequence of Sound indicated approval of the album's selection of tracks that run under a minute long. Reviewers also found Nanobots to be similar to some of the band's earlier material. In particular, the album was compared to Apollo 18, which featured "Fingertips", a series of 21 songs, almost all under 30 seconds long.[23][24] Longtime music critic Robert Christgau described "Tesla" as "strong as‑-and more soulful than‑-anything in their catalogue", and also cited "Black Ops" and "Replicant" as highlights.[26]

The album debuted at #57 on the Billboard 200.[28] The album also spent a few weeks on the CMJ Radio 200 chart, peaking at #13 in April.[29]

Track listing[edit]

1."You're on Fire"2:41
3."Black Ops"3:11
4."Lost My Mind"2:50
5."Circular Karate Chop"2:56
6."Call You Mom"3:06
9."Stone Cold Coup d'Etat"2:57
10."Sometimes a Lonely Way"2:40
11."Destroy the Past"0:16
12."9 Secret Steps"1:56
13."Hive Mind"0:06
14."Decision Makers"0:15
17."Insect Hospital"1:30
20."The Darlings of Lumberland"3:21
22."Stuff Is Way"1:37
24."Too Tall Girl"2:34
25."Didn't Kill Me"0:31
Total length:44:47

Australian bonus CD[edit]

The Australian CD, released through Breakaway Records, was packaged with a bonus disc containing seven live tracks.

1."Santa's Beard"1:54
2."Ana Ng"4:10
3."Careful What You Pack"2:42
4."Withered Hope"3:16
5."Judy Is Your Viet Nam"1:31
6."Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"6:18
7."How Can I Sing Like A Girl?"2:56
Total length:21:47


They Might Be Giants[30]
Backing band[30]
Additional musicians[30]


  1. ^ Flansburgh, John (2013-02-19). "Jo Cheechs Radio Hour 20130226" (MP3). Jo & Cheech's Radio Hour (Interview). Interviewed by Joelle Albury. Rockland, Maine: WRFR.
  2. ^ "They Might Be Giants Seek Mother Figure on 'Call You Mom' – Song Premiere". Rolling Stone. 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2013-12-12.
  3. ^ Flansburgh, John (2013-02-09). "Interview with John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants" (MP3). Yoshi's Island (Interview). Interviewed by Maxe Mazelis. Burlington, Vermont: WRUV. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
  4. ^ "They Might Be Giants on Lojinx". Lojinx. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  5. ^ "They Might Be Giants Release 'Nanobots'". Tom magazine. 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  6. ^ "Nanobots". Amazon UK. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
  7. ^ a b "Nanobots". Idlewild Recordings (SoundCloud). 2013-02-26. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  8. ^ "They Might Be Giants Pack Mini-Jams Into 'Nanobots' - Album Premiere". Rolling Stone. 2013-02-26. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  9. ^ Suits Baer, Harrison (2013-01-24). "They Might Be Giants release preview EP for forthcoming album Nanobots". Beats per Minute. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  10. ^ Freed, Nick (2013-01-29). "Album Review: They Might Be Giants – Nanobots EP". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  11. ^ Flansburgh, John (2012-12-06). "Twitter / tmbg". Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  12. ^ Blistein, Jon (2012-11-16). "They Might Be Giants Q&A: In The Studio With The Nerd-Rock Kings". Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  13. ^ Block, Dustin (2013-02-07). "They Might Be Giants' Detroit memories: Bombing at St. Andrew's, following Skinny Puppy, and buying great records". MLive. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
  14. ^ "They Might Be Giants Bio". Girlie Action. February 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
  15. ^ Linnell, John. "The Weird and the Wired". Interview with Arthur Durkee. Night Sites and Sounds. August, 1992.
  16. ^ Weber, Sam (2013-01-22). "A big thank you to..." Tumblr. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  17. ^ Weingarten, Christopher R. (2013-01-22). "Hear They Might Be Giants' Shifty 'Lost My Mind'". Spin. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  18. ^ Breihan, Tom (2013-02-21). "They Might Be Giants – "You're On Fire" (Stereogum Premiere)". Stereogum. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
  19. ^ a b Hall, Tara (2013-02-01). "They Might Be Giants prep for 'Nanobots' rising". SoundSpike. Archived from the original on 2013-02-07. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  20. ^ "Mailing List Archive/2013-03-13". TMBG Mailing List. This Might Be a Wiki. 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
  21. ^ a b "Nanobots - They Might Be Giants". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-05-02.
  22. ^ a b Phares, Heather (2013-03-05). "Nanobots". Allmusic. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
  23. ^ a b Arroyo, Steven (2013-03-05). "Album Review: They Might Be Giants – Nanobots". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
  24. ^ Skidmore, Alex (2013-03-05). "They Might Be Giants: Nanobots". Paste. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
  25. ^ a b "They Might Be Giants". Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  26. ^ Jones, Lucy. "They Might Be Giants – 'Nanobots'". NME. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  27. ^ "Nanobots". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-03-16.
  28. ^ "Bleached: 'Ride' The Lightning". CMJ. 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
  29. ^ a b c d Nanobots (Media notes). They Might Be Giants. Idlewild Recordings. 2013.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)

External links[edit]