On their second full-length studio album, I Told You I Was Freaky, New Zealand’s Flight Of The Conchords can’t afford to rest on the success of their past efforts. As a comedy-band-from-television, the Conchords are no longer the only band in town – see Andy Samberg’s shamelessly star-driven and wildly popular The Lonely Island – and in the fight to stay hungry, Bret and Jemaine have had to step out from the comfortable shelter of the usual we’re-Kiwis-not-Aussies jokes.
On album opener Hurt Feelings the duo establish that, first of all, rappers have feelings (“Some people say that rappers are invincible; we’re vincible”) and, secondly, Bret and Jemaine are, in fact, rappers (who cry 24 karat gold-plated tears). The Conchords then recount “autobiographical raps” about instances in which their feelings were hurt, asking, “Have you ever been told your ass is too big? Have you ever been told your hair looks like a wig?” and so on. This one’s consistently funnier than anything Samberg and company have come up with, and it sets a high-water mark for the rest of the album.
Like their debut album, this one plays as a supplemental soundtrack to their HBO television show and, as a result, a few songs here suffer from lack of visual cues. We’re Both In Love With A Sexy Lady finds the duo singing over a Barry White sexed-up slow jam, slowly coming to the realisation that they’ve both fallen in love with the same woman (and arguing over whether her name is Barbara or Brarbrara), but the bit about her epileptic dog seems misplaced in this audio-only format.
Rambling Through The Avenues Of Time uses a Piano Man chord progression to tell an escalatingly nonsensical narrative in which Bret recounts a fabled perfect day with a girl whose middle name may be Cheri (Brett: “She looked like a Parisian river.” Jemaine: “Dirty?”). Similarly, Friends (a mostly acapella jaunt featuring an all too brief guest spot by comedian Jim Gaffigan) and Carol Brown (on which Jemaine is accosted by a choir of ex-girlfriends who claim, “He doesn’t cook or clean; he’s not good boyfriend material,”) have a hard time standing on their own, without the support of their respective episode plots.
The Conchords further their exploration of synthesised beats (in the vein of 2008’s Inner City Pressure and Robots) on a few standout tracks. Sugalumps is an innuendo-packed dancefloor rave-up, on which Jemaine sings such self-absorbed lyrics as, “I see you girls checking out my junk,” and “You probably think my pants got the mumps,” with feigned M.I.A. bombast. Brett chimes in: “My sugalumps are two of a kind, sweet and white and highly refined.” This one’s all over the musical map bouncing from trippy electronic dance music to Beastie Boys hip-hop, to lounge sleaziness.
On Too Many Dicks On The Dancefloor the Conchords address an all too familiar problem plaguing discotheques today, offering some advice:�”It ain’t no good if there’s too much wood. Make sure you know before you go, the dancefloor bro-ho ratio.” This one’s a jovial, celebratory riot, with Bret and Jemaine leading a choir of disgruntled men who have found themselves in a suspiciously lady-free conga line.
I Told You I Was Freaky is a smart, funny, musically vast album, giving everyone’s favorite kiwis a chance to broaden the canvas of their twitchy, awkward, displaced brand of comedy. And while it helps to have seen the second series of their American TV show, this collection of songs serves as evidence that Bret and Jemaine are more than just one-trick gigolos.