All the childhood staples are present on "Pop of the Tots": trains, colors, nature, farm animals, animal sounds and robots.
So what's the difference between this indie pop effort and, say, a Raffi disc? Terrific musical chops and a diverse palate for starters. Tim Knuth (that'd be the Human Tim) also takes these well-traveled themes down a twangy new path. The result is a pleasant musical sojourn that manages to be comfortably familiar yet decidedly refreshing.
If his reliance on such dead-horse subjects is a mark against this record, Knuth's unique touch and nimble handling of these same subjects is cause for some excitement.
The first thing you'll notice is just how un-robotic this record is. Save for a couple songs with blips and bleeps, "Pop of the Tots" is way closer to a dusty Country & Western album than an Animal Collective-esque electro pop recording.
I'd categorize Human Tim's debut family album as a slow grower. You'll likely need a few spins before the gentle rhythms of "Rainbow" and "Telephone" and the sneaky catchiness of "Lizard On My Leg" make themselves known to you and your kids. Spend some quality time with "Pop of the Tots" though and you'll be rewarded with a high-quality record that is very favorable to repeat spins.
It took until the 3rd or 4th listen before the Bear finally took to the disc, a little bit after I realized just how nice "Pop of the Tots" is on the ears. The album's general mellowness caused it to fade into the background too often while driving. Once she was able to focus on the lyrics, the Bear became rather smitten with several tracks, including "Curious Planet" with it's unique environmental message and the progression of animals joining Tim's band during "Lizard On My Leg" - probably the most sing-along-able track of the bunch. Visit Human Tim + Robot Tim's official site for a free download of "I Like Mice" and to sample the rest of the tracks.
"Pop of the Tots" is best suited for younger kids, those in the 3-6 age group. It's a delightful debut and a record that has me excited for what Tim Knuth does next. Here's hoping Human Tim pushes into even more exciting lyrical territory and shows us, just as he does on "Pop of the Tots", a more unique side of an already cozy world.