Flight of the Conchords

I Told You I Was Freaky

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Label: Sub Pop

America has been good to Flight of the Conchords and Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie have been just as good in return. With two seasons of a highly-successful HBO show under their belt, plus six Emmy nominations for writing, directing and Jemaine’s performance, this New Zealand comedy-folk duo are doing pretty fucking good for themselves in their domination of the States. Their sometimes-kitschy, often-campy, always-entertaining brand of musical humor has caught the eyes and ears of some of the underground comedy circuit’s biggest names on their almost-overnight rise to fame over the last few years.

That said, I Told You I Was Freaky acts in the same way as their previous self-titled release did- a soundtrack to the preceding season of their self-titled television series. With that knowledge, it could be incredibly easy to pass off this LP (as well as the previous one) simply as “for the fans” efforts. In doing this, listeners are committing horrible crimes against themselves and nature. Clement and McKenzie have dug deep in their bag of tricks to deliver this go-around, bringing us parodies in the veins of ’80s electronica (a genre I am hoping would die a disgusting, painful death, yet the Conchords revive it with a delicious self-awareness and flair), reggae troubadours, dance and pop. We even get a play on the R. Kelly/Usher duet “Same Girl” entitled “We’re Both in Love with a Sexy Lady” thrown in among the lot.

The album begins with the insanely hilarious “Hurt Feelings,” a clever rap number where the Conchords lament sucky, humdrum events in which they felt mistreated (“I call my friends and say let’s go into town/ But they’re all too busy to go into town/ So I go by myself, I go into town/ Then I see all my friends… they’re all in town.”) This may possibly be the first time I’ve ever heard a toy piano used so successfully in a rap song. Freaky’s title track is an interesting triumph in its sheer weirdness. Its meandering wordplay and clashing musical styles form a hybrid that can only be described as freaky. Plus, to hear Bret talking about clipping chips to hips is totally rewind-worthy in itself.

The inventiveness of the album lingers throughout the tight 34-minute run. Several of the record’s standouts don’t arrive until the latter half with “Too Many Dicks (On the Dance Floor)” and “You Don’t Have To Be a Prostitute”. The first of which is an R&B comment on… well, I’m sure you understand. It’s a strangely danceable song that could play any night at any club, probably inciting the same situation it’s complaining of. The latter is a fun rocksteady groove that may seem odd taken out of context, only because it stems from an episode of their show in which Jemaine turns to male prostitution to pay rent. That song, next to an earlier track, “Sugalumps,” could be the catchiest on the record, with a well-sung chorus from McKenzie, donning his best Caribbean accent. But it isn’t all dance jams and R&B parodies with the Conchords. They have a softer side, probably best shown on “Rambling Through the Avenues of Time” and the sillier “Friends.” “Rambling” is an acoustic-folk number where Bret strums his way about the apartment he shares with Jemaine, recounting his day to Jemaine’s discontent. What starts as simple and maybe boring for the duo turns into a nice guitar-driven dialogue between the two.

Flight of the Conchords doesn’t take the easy road- sticking to what they know best. But whatever their formula is for succeeding at tackling each genre they set their sights on, they should keep it a secret. They keep things simple and therefore, still feel fresh as the day they arrived on the scene. Somehow with each new song, there seems to be that inching along for strides in a new direction, keeping their audience not guessing, but simply wanting more. In a time where music seems to be in a sometimes overwhelming search for newness and invention, Flight of the Conchords are doing quite well at being a fun exception to the rule.

by Cameron Mason
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