Flight of the Conchords – I Told You I Was Freaky

[Sub Pop; 2009]

There are two fundamental problems with what Flight of the Conchords are doing. Firstly, where does the comedy stop and the musicianship begin? Comedy shows like The Mighty Boosh cut a clear distinction between the two. The music is often spontaneous, usually lasting no longer than a minute and memorable for sheer randomness put into the lyrics. Flight of the Conchords are in a more troubled position because the music certainly has its quirky side and there’s plenty of rhymes and lines to have you singing and repeating to your friends weeks after hearing them for the first time but they are so often put them beside such great melodies.

This brings me to the second problem – how serious should this be taken as music? Is it even to considered purely music or rather comedy first? Quite simply, I don’t know – the problem has plagued me since I first heard their self-titled Sub Pop debut album last year. Really the only solution is to forget about it or put it to the back of your mind and just enjoy the music.

And it’s really easy to enjoy. Despite wandering away from being acoustic centred and into a greater array of styles and musical parodies, it’s just as accessible and welcoming as it is hilarious. Take the fantastic opening song “Hurt Feelings” which is another superb execution of their now famous folk and hip-hop styles. Over a funky and thick bass line the song makes the words profiteroles and casserole a great rhyme while hitting an irresistible chorus.

But describing and trying to analyse the songs here like any other album feels pointless and stupid. This is just comedy put to great music so there’s no deep meaning to be found here, only pop culture references at best which you might catch on to as you find yourself memorizing the words in your head in the absence of it being played. The parodies of what the songs mimic or mock probably give someone reading about the music a good enough indication of what to expect but it’s hard to describe what’s here without resorting to ordinary terms such as “amusing” and “catchy.”

So as a reviewer I’m left in complicated situation. I could (and probably would) unabashedly sing lines from the songs here to make you laugh (at the lines, not me singing) and get you listening to the original versions. Sure I could quote the great final part of “We’re Both in Love With A Sexy Lady” or the title track of the album but reading the lines does Bret and Jemaine’s work no justice.

Of course there will be plenty of already fans who will pick I Told You I Was Freaky and know the songs already from countless viewings of them on Youtube after the episodes aired on TV. And there will be fans that will enjoy the material here but complain of other songs left off the compilation or the fact that “Petrov, Yelyena and Me” got fitted out with an accordion and quivering violin and the band disposed of its elongated acoustic version.

Qualms like these though will be down to personal taste though and the album really satisfies as much as you could want it to. And also, because of a runtime of just over half an hour, it’s easy to find yourself listening to the full thing half dozen times in one day. The songs are smart in how they make you come back again and again – instead of driving the same chorus into your head over and over, it often varies the delivery each time and with the majority of the songs here not even running past the three minute mark, it offers brief, sweet and addictive helpings.

So finally, the Bret and Jemaine left with one more problem – where do they go next? HBO are happy to let them have another series but the band have spoken of how they might make their now released second series their last. Sure enough they could keep this up – the amount of parodies they could pull off is essentially endless – but they are talented musicians and comedians and doing this format over and over doesn’t challenge them, or the listener for that matter. But then again, it never was about a challenge, merely enjoying themselves and they sound like they have got that down perfectly. And it’s hardly surprising that this enjoyment will rub off onto the listeners.