For many, the first notes of a brand-new Monkees song come with a lot of emotion: the curiosity of expectation, the trepidation of how it might differ from their catalog, and the pure excitement of hearing something they’ve never heard before. Which, for a band like the Pre-Fab Four, is a pretty big deal.
Today, a month before Good Times!, the band’s first album of new material since 1996’s Justus, comes out, its first single, the Micky Dolenz-led “She Makes Me Laugh,” gives us a taste of what’s next. The Rivers Cuomo-penned tune simultaneously recalls the Monkees’ and their contemporaries’ sunnier ’60s moments and Weezer’s mid-’90s/early-aughts fare like “Island in the Sun.” Its infectious melody thankfully fits right into the Monkees’ wheelhouse — a tantalizing tease of what to expect on the record, out May 27.
The Monkees have never shied away from the fact that top songwriters shaped their output since day one, with luminaries like Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Boyce and Hart, and Carole King penning some of their most beloved tracks. Good Times! proves to be no different; Cuomo is one of a handful of writers behind the collection, joined by Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Noel Gallagher (Oasis), and Andy Partridge (XTC), among others.
Though Cuomo does channel the veritable list of Ghosts of Monkees Songwriters Past, the lyrics for “She Makes Me Laugh” (conveniently available in the lyric video released today) show signs of update, like a reference to texting. But the most amusing imagery comes in the form of an ideal date: Scrabble, pink party hats, and a safari. Wait, wasn’t that the premise of a season-one episode of The Monkees? No? Totally could have been.
It really doesn’t matter; I’ve listened to this song about five times already, and I know it’s going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day, which is what a great Monkees song should do. For fans of the Monkees’ early sound, or nostalgia in general, “She Makes Me Laugh” is a strong start to what’s sure to be a year of good times.