As I have aged I have been slowly but surely reaching the conclusion that comedy, or more specifically, what the individual finds funny is a deeply personal thing, perhaps even more so than music. If you’re watching a film, television programme or stand up comedian who everyone around you is laughing at, yet it / they absolutely fail to locate your particular funny bone, it can feel a strangely alienating experience. In contrast, if you are lucky enough to be with people, or a person, who shares your sense of humour, it can be one of the most intimate things ever.
A quick perusal of my music collection will lead to the conclusion that I am a fan of funny / clever lyrics or interpretations. Others may frown upon me for not taking music seriously, but not being a musician and not having a scholastic understanding of music, I don’t feel the need to take it seriously. I know what I like and what I don’t like and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a Flight of the Conchords fan, both on screen and in audio. Truth be told, friends had been trying to turn me on to them for some time and I even had “Bowie” on a freebie Sub-Pop compilation for a while, but it was ultimately my now partner who gave me the push I needed to immerse myself in their world.
What really struck me with Flight of the Conchords was that, despite having tagged themselves ‘comedy-folk’, was that they were able to parody a number of styles with relative ease and ensure that even their lesser songs have a chucklesome moment or two. Their self titled studio debut album also doubles up as a collection of songs from the first season of their television series, and is pleasingly diverse. From 80s synth pop (“Inner City Pressure”), manufactured boy-band ballads (“A Kiss is Not a Contract” easily eclipsing anything that Boyzone or Westlife have ever released), glam (the peerless “Bowie”), and even a well-executed The Dukes of Stratosphear sound-alike (“The Prince of Parties” may be one of the parody of a parody), they’re all great little tunes, hell, even “Hiphopapotamous vs. Rhymoncerous” highlights the lyrical limitations of rap (though to be fair, rap has become considerably more nuanced in the decade since). Quite why they chose to open the album with the weak “Foux Du Fafa” is anyone’s guess though.
As amusing as much of this material is (well it amuses me), there are a number curious omissions with the likes of the epic “I’m Not Crying” and “If You’re in to It” being left conspicuously out of the running order, though admittedly they are both included on the brilliant The Distant Future EP, so that’s fair enough I suppose, and while I can understand that they may want this release to effectively be a soundtrack of their first TV series, surely the heart-wrenching epic of love, loss and amnesia that is “Jenny” should have been included as a bonus track.
There are those who might assume that Flight of the Conchords only truly work in the context of the television show, however listening to this album in isolation, it’s a pleasing collection of memorable tunes. Yes, overplaying it might dull the humour a little bit, but ultimately it’s a strong selection of songs, and who could ask anything more of an album?