Tentacle Trauma by Brother Octopus plays like a 2000s version of the albums They Might Be Giants made in the 1980s. They’re quirky and their songs are filled with lyrics about dinosaurs, aliens, Dr. Seuss and Vanilla Ice. Like TMBG, Brother Octopus excels in a playful glee that makes it hard not to smile as you listen along.
Musically, the duo (Brother Octopus and his female band-mate aptly named Lady Friend) offer a wide variety of sounds on Tentacle Trauma. “Recreational Zoo” is an electronic tinged opener with atmospheric synthesizers that create the song’s main hook. Its main melody sounds like it could be the score for the famed 1980s Nintendo Game Mega Man 2. “Boogie Boogie” combines the electronic elements with a more organic approach with a loud acoustic guitar that comes to the forefront during the chorus. When Lady Friend and Brother Octopus sing “hey got to boogie boogie” they sound distant and bored, which makes the song all the more hilarious. Singing a chorus with the words “boogie boogie” and making it sound serious is quite an achievement. The song also finds Brother Octopus rapping a few lines as well.
The only problem with Tentacle Trauma is that it is not a full-length. Still, it’s refreshing to hear a group that doesn’t take itself too seriously while also creating music that is engaging and inspiring.