Try not to embarrass yourself by laughing in public.
Mike Diver 2009-11-05
Too popular to be considered a cult concern anymore, New Zealand comedy duo Flight of the Conchords have seen their rib-tickling, genre-spanning songs land them a successful show for Radio 2, two HBO television series and win a clutch of awards, including a Grammy for their Distant Future EP of 2007.
I Told You I Was Freaky is the second album from the pair of Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement, the follow-up to 2008’s generally well received eponymous debut, which featured songs from the first HBO series. Following suit, this collection compiles ditties from season two. With the songs in question more integrated into the narratives of said episodes, appreciating them without first seeing the shows might prove a struggle.
Existing fans are sure to appreciate the humorous asides, developed wordplay and excellent timing of McKenzie and Clement, whose sarcastic put-downs to each other can easily have the listener laughing aloud, above the sound of their headphones. But those who’ve avoided the Conchords to date (who are you, exactly?) will, largely, wonder what the fuss is about. You Don’t Have to Be a Prostitute, Sugalumps and Fashion is Danger seem shallow pastiches of Police-like pop-reggae, Timbaland-echoing squelch-hop and Pet Shop Boys electro respectively when taken out of context.
The band’s reluctance to stick to one particular type of instrumental backing for their skits means that I Told You I Was Freaky is a wildly inconsistent album tonally – but few will buy it for a complete-play experience, preferring to skip to their favourite bumpin’ and grindin’ (or folkin’ and strumin’, or fizzin’ and poppin’) sketches. The title track is a true highlight, showcasing wonderfully the Conchords’ penchant for lexically animated nonsense – Clement’s claim that he’s invited some ghosts over for a three-way just one giggle amongst many.
It’s not all complete silliness and songs about naughty bits and where our protagonists fancy putting them, though – Friends is a fairly sensitive number explaining why a man’s male friends are better than his female ones. Answer: because they let him drink more than one beer in a sitting. Okay, so the track is quite silly lyrically, but its sweet backing harmonies are truly lovely. Carol Brown is similarly subdued of arrangement and all the more delightful for it.
Newcomers: watch the show first. Fans: pick this up immediately, but do try not to embarrass yourself by laughing in public.