Your hair is like silk
But you’re curdling my milk
I know not of what ilk thou art
You sit on a rock
Looking nice in your frock
But you’re scaring my livestock
I’ve spent far too many years buying serious LPs crammed full of lyrics just like this not to find ‘Demon Woman’ by Flight of the Conchords and by extension their 2009 album I Told You I Was Freaky, side-splittingly funny. At the risk of repeating myself absolutely everything I said about FOTC’s wonderful debut LP stands true here and I can pay I Told You I Was Freaky no higher compliment than to say it is every bit as good as that LP; so let’s spend 800 words repeating myself … again.
All my favourite music is funny, either intentionally or not and so I’m absolute roadkill for I Told You Was Freaky. Again, we’re treated to a number of razor sharp pastiches of various musical styles but more importantly than that, each and every one of them is a great tune in their own right AND EVEN MORE importantly than that, the Conchords pick their targets wonderfully well, righteously skewering an awful lot of pomposity and daftness, whilst having fun. Witness:
The temptation is of course to basically cut and paste all their lyrics here as well as adding all the videos, because almost every single line is genius and hope it may reflect some of their wit my way and you’ll think I’m a lot funnier and cleverer simply by association. I won’t, but it has to be said that ‘Hurt Feelings’ rhyming ‘I feel like a prize asshole / No one even mentions my casserole’ makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it*. Again though the point is that the music, hilarious as it is, stands on its’ own merit as it does on every track on I Told You I Was Freaky.
As before, the more urban and sexy the music the Conchords are sending up is, the funnier the whole thing is, just by juxtaposition of Jemaine and Bret’s characters against it, the Outkast referencing title track does it beautifully (‘here I am in your kitchen dressed in snakeskin / Making love to your cake tin’), as do two of my very favourite cuts here ‘Sugalumps’ and ‘We’re Both in Love With a Sexy Lady’. Sorry, I can’t be very objective here this LP is a total delight from the run-in groove through to the run-out groove.
Only an unfeeling lump of clay could fail to marvel at ‘Rambling Through The Avenues of Time’ and it’s knowing nod towards Peter Sarsted – Jemaine’s reference to Shakespeare’s Juliet being 13 years-old edged him narrowly ahead of me in Mrs 1537’s affections as the most desirable man ever; fair enough, I say. And it has to be said that, now my kids are older ‘Too Many Dicks (On The Dancefloor)’ is a favourite vocal jam for the 1537 family on long car journeys, often segued into Queen’s ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ – we’re just like the Von Trapp family, but way ruder.
It has to be said that Sub Pop put together a beautifully packaged record here, from the oh-so-thick 60 denier embossed cardboard cover, the huge poster of the cover art, the sapphire blue vinyl, a fab big lyric booklet** and a little packet containing toenail clippings from both band members (with a certificate of authentication), the latter being a particularly nice touch I think. Even if I’d never played this record it would still add to the sum total of happiness in my life.
For my money the best track musically on I Told You I Was Freaky, ‘Carol Brown’, is far less of a pastiche, although it nods towards ’50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’ (‘Mona, you told me you were in a coma / Tiffany, you said that you had an epiphany’) being a list of the many ways lovers have left Jemaine. It is very funny, natch but it is a bit more than that too. The tune is just wonderful, the female backing singers especially so – when they form a chorus debunking Jemaine’s protestations about what a great boyfriend he is, it makes me happy. But more than that, I think you get a glimpse here of how good the Conchords could be as a straight band, what they could conjure for us as well as comedy.
Flight of the Conchords seem to be on a hiatus at the moment and have been for a good few years now, the odd tour notwithstanding and I can understand why, musically. I just wonder whether they have run their course as a creative act, how many times can you make fun, skit and copy without hitting diminishing returns, no matter how talented and intelligent you are? most bands end up parodying themselves, maybe Bret and Jemaine just got out before they ended up parodying themselves, parodying other bands, parodying themselves. Maybe they just decided not to prostitute their talents.
It’s a cold night, beneath the street light, there’s a man whose pants are too tight
Oh no, his pants are too tight
*the same song’s declaration that they are not invincible, but very vincible, almost causes me trouser darkening levels of mirth, every single time I hear it. True story.
**complete with chord indications so you, the listener, could form your own two-man novelty band if the mood struck.