#24 – “Creepy” (Mono Puff; 1998)

It's Fun To Steal

A.S.: This song is called “Creepy”!

L.K.: More Mono Puff, oh boy.
A.S.: I was unaware there was a music video for this song until now.
[One minute later] 
Oh wait, it’s not actually a video, it’s just something Flans made.
L.K.: Yeah, there is only one Mono Puff song that has an actual video. The rest are ridiculous Flans iMovie creations.
A.S.: Which he does really quite frequently.
L.K.: So much fuzzy bass going on in this song.
A.S.: So much going on in this song in general.
L.K.: Oh yeah. It’s funky and weird as hell. Ironically, the song itself isn’t creepy at all.
A.S.: It has this really dense arrangement and a bit of a strange structure.
L.K.: There’s almost too much going on in it.
A.S.: The song could conceivably end before the halfway mark and have gone through all the verses and melodic content and such, but it just keeps going.
L.K.: All sorts of sections are just thrown in there without necessarily any relation to the rest of the song.
A.S.: Yeah, exactly, but it’s these weird extraneous parts that make the song memorable.
L.K.: The little harp parts, the audience applause, the “six million ways to die” sample (is that from something, or did they make it themselves?)
A.S.: The great percussion breakdown.
L.K.: There’s the sound of a woman inhaling or something in there too, there’s just all sorts of weird little things thrown in there for only a second or two.
A.S.: According to the Wiki, the song was mostly recorded at home.  As such I could just imagine a very sleep-deprived Flansburgh up at night just adding more and more shit into the mix of this track.
L.K.: I can only imagine. And of course, there’s the greatest spoken word section in pop music history.
A.S.: That one spoken-word line.
L.K.: I have this massive soft spot for all narration by John Flansburgh within his own songs, and this one is no exception. So I wonder which of these “true” stories actually happened to him, because there are very few verses in this song that tell much of a story at all.
A.S.: Yeah, there’s hardly any story here, never mind a few.  Just little sketches of things that might fit into a much greater story not told at all in the lyrics
L.K.: It’s mostly disconnected fragments of unrelated things, unless the town drunk’s angry daughter is also the same person from the rest of the song. Note the female pronouns.
A.S.: Which is pretty Flansburghian. Hey, have you noticed that people never seem to use the word “Flansburghian” to describe things? I’ve seen people describe things as “Linnellian” all the damn time.
L.K.: They don’t? I do.
A.S.: But never “Flansburghian”.
L.K.: Flans-eqsue. No clue. His name has too damn many letters in it!
A.S.: Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places, but I feel like I don’t see it that often. Either way, this is a pretty Flansburghian tune.
L.K.: What a wild thing to have as an opening track for an album, too, well, assuming you don’t count the “Hidden Track”…
A.S.: I mean, that really is a great riff though; probably one of the best riffs in the Greater-TMBG catalogue.
L.K.: It took me a really, really long time to get into Mono Puff compared to State Songs, but I really do dig this song now, along with most of MP’s output. Do you think the funk/disco stuff is what scares regular TMBG fans away from Mono Puff? The number of covers? There’s just something about Mono Puff as a whole that seems to alienate a lot of people who like They Might Be Giants and also like John Linnell’s solo work.
A.S.: The Mono Puff albums don’t really have much cohesion to them – so much of what’s on those two records is just so far-flung and out there and collaborative that it doesn’t really hold together in the form of “albums” all that well. I honestly don’t really view a lot of Mono Puff’s stuff in terms of the two albums, I just recognize them as a whole bunch of songs I like.
L.K.: It’s more like “here’s a bunch of crazy shit Flans did that wouldn’t fit on a TMBG album.”
A.S.: Right, and when you add other non-TMBG members into the mix, that could kinda distance it even further from the main TMBG body of work.
L.K.: It’s Fun To Steal is a little more cohesive as an album because I think that one was planned more as an album than Unsupervised was. The first Mono Puff album really was just thrown together from all over the place. The “Hello Hello” cover wasn’t even a Mono Puff track, it was just the Hello the Band version!
A.S.: Whereas with State Songs, it’s a) bound underneath a single workable concept, b) it’s under John Linnell’s name and seems to have been under his complete artistic control, and c) aside from maybe some of the barrel organ stuff, virtually everything on there would fit in with TMBG’s stuff.
L.K.: [Side note: Conant Productions Inc.!?!? Oh my god wtf]
A.S.: Maybe if State Songs were more like the House of Mayors EP, people would be a bit more distanced from it.
L.K.: Oh man, I can’t wait until we get to the stuff from that EP, because there is so much insane stuff on there, and then a few really normal things too.
A.S.: But with Mono Puff, for every “Unsupervised, I Hit My Head” or “Backstabbing Liar”, you also get “Pretty Fly” or “Distant Antenna” or “Extra Krispy”, all of which sound even beyond TMBG’s already wide range of material.
L.K.: The uptempo poppy rock stuff would sound normal at a TMBG show, but everything else?
A.S.: It’s so beyond TMBG that it barely has that distinct TMBG sound to it that makes even their strangest stuff at least somewhat familiar. (I’m pulling this all out of my ass but I think it makes sense.) So that’s why I think Mono Puff’s material is a bit more neglected. It doesn’t all work either, but the sheer willingness to try anything is admirable.  Flansburgh sounds like a kid in a candy store on a lot of these tracks, hence why “Creepy” probably has like 100 tracks on it or whatever.
L.K.: Yeah, some of Mono Puff’s songs are definitely failed experiments in a lot of ways, but while it isn’t perfect, “Creepy” is pretty successful overall. (Whoa wait Flans played piano on this? Weird.)
A.S.: (Two posts in a row where we’re surprised at Flansburgh’s ability to play keyboards.  We can’t underestimate the guy.)
L.K.: I still want to know where the samples on this came from. I get the feeling we’ll never know though.
A.S.: Yeah, if anyone has any info on that sample and wishes to share, that’d be cool.
A.S.: Also, I think we should mention that horse_ebooks happened to send the following message just now: “If you go to the clubs and dance, it s funky. You turn on the radio,”
L.K.: Ah, horse_ebooks. Always the right quote for the occasion.
A.S.: We both strongly encourage readers to follow horse’s tweets or like it on Facebook; it is a magical world unto itself.
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