Conchords soar on "Flight"

May 1, 2008, midnight | By Kiera Zitelman | 15 years, 11 months ago

First full-length delivers laughs and tunes

Flight of the Conchords members Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement call themselves "formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo a-capella-rap-funk-comedy duo." Whether or not that is true remains to, and probably never will, be seen. But what is sure from their first full-length album, "Flight of the Conchords," is that the pair is here to stay – not just a fleeting fad briefly popularized with a funny album.

McKenzie and Clement are better known for their self-titled HBO comedy show from last summer, in which they were depicted as struggling musicians in New York. All of the songs on. their new album come from the show's plotlines, which ranged from the romantic to the surreal. While the Conchords' songs are not nearly as funny without the images of the two band members' stone-serious faces as they deliver ridiculous lines, the music still translates to an album.

New Zealanders Flight of the Conchords bring music and laughter together on their first full-length album. Photo courtesy of Amazon.

As an originally made-for-TV band, the Conchords have found a way to break out of the box in this album. Their songs need no introduction or visual accompaniment, and the listener is not left wondering about the back stories.

The Conchords are at their best on the straight parody songs – a tribute to David Bowie on "Bowie," a lampoon of cheesy French pop songs in "Foux de Fafa" and the rap tunes "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros," and "Mutha 'uckers," to name just a few. On "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros," McKenzie and Clement trade lines in a rap battle of the nerds: "When I'm on the mic, I'm like global warming…Check your yellow pages, I'm a registered rhymenaecologist." The pair channels Marvin Gaye-style pleas on "Think About It," techno sounds of the Pet Shop Boys in "Inner City Pressure" and Barry White's impossibly deep voice on "Business Time," the definite highlight of the album.

Even without looking for other styles in the Conchords' album, various artists are undeniably present – which can leave the listener looking for the plain old Conchords. If the band released this album intending it to be an example of their expert songwriting, this muted original voice would be a widely heard criticism. But the Conchords only pretend to take themselves seriously, and comedic parodies are an ever-present and entertaining element in their music. The band's sharp comedy is precisely what attracts the online community, which has welcomed their latest album with open arms. The Conchords don't just use their songs to support their comedy; they blend each song's tone with the topic in question perfectly.

While their album is entertaining, in the future, the band will need to write some songs that don't come from the TV airings.

Though it is probably not necessary for their semi-serious songs, the New Zealanders are surprisingly good singers. Clement hits the low notes and McKenzie the high, and the two combine to form a wide range that further cements their status as a band that can be established outside of television.

Giving the Conchords a chance outside the box yields a talented duo that is not only entertaining, but also musically flexible. Their songs are good enough to be listened to over and over again, unlike those of Tenacious D and other such rock-comedy bands. With "Flight of the Conchords," McKenzie and Clement demonstrate their versatility, durability and comedy. The Conchords have landed.

Kiera Zitelman. Kiera Zitelman goes by many names and Photo Booth effects. She enjoys being able to drive and representing Kensington. She likes her dog, Sophie, and her human friend of the same name. Kiera owns one-third of a hot dog toaster and one-fourth of a movie … More »

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