Music

Flight of the Conchords: I Told You I Was Freaky

Flight of the Conchords' new album, like their second season, is frustratingly uneven.


Flight of the Conchords

I Told You I Was Freaky

Label: Sub Pop
US Release Date: 2009-10-20
UK Release Date: 2009-10-26
Amazon
iTunes

Understand one thing right now: comedy is terribly important. Good art is supposed to reflect and amplify aspects of our lives, and while critics tend to emphasize the brilliance of melancholy artists, silliness and hilarity is part of life, too, and art ought to reflect that as well. In his Journals, Kurt Cobain called "Weird Al" Yankovic the greatest musical genius of our times, and there's something to that.

What this means is that the mediocre score awarded to Flight of the Conchords' second album, I Told You I Was Freaky, isn't because it's a comedy album, something too often dismissed as lightweight and disposable. It's because it's a comedy album that isn't very good.

Most of these songs don't have the same wit or sense of purpose that characterized the songs on their debut, which doubled as the soundtrack for the first season of their TV show. These are songs from the second season, and the pressures of time and expectations are readily apparent -- some songs, like "We're Both in Love With a Sexy Lady", sound like a desperate attempt to fill three minutes of airtime. It's got some good jokes and amusing wordplay, but never quite coheres into a song, and fades out abruptly without any sense of conclusion.

Others fare worse. "You Don't Have to Be a Prostitute" and "Fashion Is Danger" go nowhere without their accompanying visuals, and are pretty light on jokes. The absolute nadir is "Demon Woman", which appears to be a parody of overblown late '70s and '80s rock, full of Satanic imagery and rockin' guitars. First of all, Spinal Tap and Tenacious D have mined this territory pretty extensively already. Second, it's hard to parody this style of music by being more over-the-top; at this point I think even the Scorpions realize that the Scorpions were ridiculous. Instead, the parody is just a crappy version of one of those songs. Lyrics like "Your hair is like silk / You're curdling my milk / I know not of what ilk thou art" are neither outsized nor intentionally bad enough to either caricature or undercut the style of music they're mocking.

Lurking amongst such disappointments, however, are a handful of truly excellent Conchords songs. Opener "Hurt Feelings" returns to the territory of the first album's "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros", combining the boastful attitude of rap with completely inappropriate subject matter. Brilliant rhymes abound, with first prize going to "I feel like a prize asshole / No one even mentions my casserole". "Sugalumps", an ode to testicles, finds them singing lines like "You probably think my pants have the mumps" and "Honeys try all kinds of tomfoolery / To steal a feel of my family jewelry" over synthesized dance pop.

There are even a handful of songs that are better here than when they appeared in the TV show. Without a plot to shoehorn it into, Bret's sea shanty about cannibalism, "Petrov, Yelyena, and Me" doesn't feel quite as out of place. "Rambling Through the Avenues of Time" also works surprisingly well, with Jemaine's spoken interjections providing a hilarious counterpoint to the pretentious poetry of Bret's imaginary romance ("She looked like a Parisian river / What, dirty?"). There are also some songs that seem to take up space until a particular joke or verse ties the whole track together, like Arj Baker's guest rap on "Too Many Dicks (On the Dance Floor)" or the last verse of the title track, which finds Jemaine having sex with ghosts and cutlery.

Flight of the Conchords' first album hit on a winning formula by mixing the earnestness and self-importance of white-boy folk and hip-hop with the stupidity and naïveté of the characters performing it. On I Told You I Was Freaky, the joke often appears to be that they're performing a certain kind of song (like sing-song-y a cappella or reggae), rather than the song's actual content. Such jokes wear thin quickly, making them novelty songs in the worst sense of the word -- amusing when new, tired immediately thereafter.

5


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Music

Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.

Music

Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.

Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.