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New Zealand Rocks with Flight of the Conchords

Courtney Erckerle | Tuesday, October 27, 2009

“I Told You I Was Freaky” is the latest project of Flight of the Conchords, New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk-pop (and comedy, of course) group, following their 2008 self titled debut, as well as their 2007 Grammy winning “Distant Future” EP.

The tracks on this new album are pulled straight from the second season of their self-titled HBO show into an all-star group of parody tunes. The Conchords, Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement, shot into the comedy spotlight after ten episodes of their show aired and are now among the elite of other musical parodists — namely Weird Al Yankovic, The Lonely Island and Michael Scott from “The Office.”

Taking notes from The Lonely Island’s outstanding earlier success, the flannel-wearing folk pair changes their forte and brings more hip hop beats to the forefront of their album, although the album contains no stand out hits like “I’m On A Boat,” and certainly none that will create as much frenzy or a randomly emitted catchphrase. Also, T-Pain is no where to be found.

“I Told You I Was Freaky” opens with the hilarious R&B rip-off “Hurt Feelings,” which starts out with the lyrics, “Some people say that rappers don’t have feelings, we have feelings,” and leads into Bret and Jermaine detailing different occasions when they’ve had their feelings hurt, a so-called “autobiographical rap,” telling when someone called Jermaine a llama, or when Bret’s friends went to go see the movie “Maid in Manhattan” without him. With a very serious melody and tone, if it wasn’t flavored with such silly lyrics (e.g. the word “llama”), it could almost pass as a legitimate hit on the R&B charts.

Calling back to the Police with the rasta-fied “Roxanne” knock off “You Don’t Have To Be A Prostitute,” Bret and Jermaine perfect the story line that made their series popular- two guys who take silly problems way too seriously. Because Bret overdraws on their account, Jermaine decides that being a prostitute is the only way to pay their bills. Luckily he isn’t very successful, but that doesn’t stop Bret’s guilt (and his distaste for Jermaine bringing his clients home), which leads to a very soulful man ballad about his compromising the honor of his best friend, which includes the very touching lyrics, “You can say no, to being a man-ho” that bring a tear to the eye almost as much as the idea of Jermaine wearing tight red shorts.

A not-so-shining track is the Russian sea-shanty diddy “Petrov, Yelyena and Me,” which feels forced and too far off from the rest of the album, coming off not as funny, but as a desperate death rattle to finish the album and the season. On the other hand, synth-rock pleaser “Fashion is Danger” takes Frankie Goes to Hollywood to the mat and wins.

This CD is good enough to hold fans for a while, since the band announced that they are taking at least a yearlong hiatus (although perhaps indefinitely) due to the immense pressure the album put on them, since this season marked the first time in their ten year history that Flight of the Conchords actually had to sit down and write new material.

The CD is best sought out by fans of the show. With only a few exceptions, the jokes in songs are best when accompanied by the visuals of the show, and newcomers will find that the material falls short without a fanatic’s spirit. While there are individual standout and absolutely stellar songs, it was ultimately forgettable as a whole, certainly not a proper farewell album if that’s what it ends up being.