Graham Reid | | 1 min read
In retrospect, one of the funniest incidents in the Flight of the Conchords' second television series was when the nice but naive New Zealand prime minister Brian turned up and seemed out of his depth, and desperate to be liked.
Who knew that the actual PM John Key would later turn up on Letterman looking alarmingly like Brian?
But the Conchords -- in the series and especially their music -- have always been about art imitating life, and vice versa.
Their debut album was criticized for being made up of overly-familiar songs from the first series when it finally arrived (which didn't mean it wasn't successful on every level of parody and production), and a complaint about the second series was that the songs weren't strong enough.
Well, here's your chance to check them out away from the visuals, and they certainly stand up in many ways because you can better appreciate how clever, astute and funny they are.
They still do a terrific and gauche line in parodies of black music -- rap on Hurt Feelings, funk on the title track, Philly and Motown soul influences everywhere -- because their deliberately clumsy and gawky rhymes and falsettos suit those styles, and because they sound like they are taking their concerns (friends not being nice, getting a girl) as seriously as Ice T or soul singers take themselves.
But they also adeptly skewer po-faced white-folk(s) ballads like Where Do You Go To My Lovely? (Rambling Through the Avenues of Time), Eighties electropop again (Fashion is Danger) and white-reggae nonsense by Sting (You Don't Have to Be a Prostitute) which is also numbingly self-important.
Angels nails the sentimental schlock attached to "angels" -- be they dead children or guardian spirits that some believe in -- these days. But in a Brian-like nice way.
Not everything works: Petrov, Yelyena and Me really sounds like comedy album filler, and Friends is weak.
As with that debut album, this is so astutely produced and faithful to the era or style being skewered that the absurdity means you can never hear the artists being satirized at face value again.
The Conchords have certainly side-stepped any "difficult second album" syndrome -- and the album comes with a poster (coming to a student flat near you soon), and a booklet with lyrics and guitar tabs -- which means you might hear these songs in talent quest nights in bars or backyard bbqs over summer.
Gotta be good.