”There must have been fifty ways that lovers have left me”
Follow ups to successful albums where the primary ingredient was humour are few and far between. Humour is a transient thing and can fall out of fashion even quicker than music (just look at how arse-clenchingly unfunny a big-at-the-time Little Britain looks these days), so there are very few acts that maintain a consistent level of humour throughout their career and even then, beyond cultural anomalies like Half Man Half Biscuit, these are more often than not tagged as a novelty act.
One of the heartening things about Flight of the Concords is that they knowingly nod to their novelty and make great play of the fact that they do not take their music too seriously and as the late great Ronnie Barker taught us all, comedy is no laughing matter at the best of times. As a result of this, while I Told You I Was Freaky is a collection of songs from their second TV series recorded in the studio, it is also a clutch of surprisingly catchy and durable tunes. True, a lot of it is directly parodying other well known acts, but it does perform the neat trick of being warm-hearted and never cruel (indeed, why shouldn’t more rappers confess when their egos have been trodden on by friends and family).
The music itself is much more flavoured by synthesisers and studio trickery this time around – the comedy-folk tag here starting to fade and be replaced by something considerably more diverse without losing sight of the fact that the vast majority of their fans are listening for the lyrics rather than the music itself. RnB (“Sugalumps”, “We’re in Love With a Sexy Lady”), rap (“Hurt Feelings”), electro pop (“Fashion is Danger”) and disco floor-fillers (the brilliantly accurate “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor”) are executed with confidence, while the title track exists in a suitably weird little universe of its own.
True, there is the odd misfire on I Told You I Was Freaky, with “Demon Woman” trying to rock without much success and quite why they had to dig out “Petrov, Yelyena and Me” from their distant past is anyone’s guess. Quite why these have been chosen over say, “Epileptic Dogs”, is anyone’s guess (I for one would “Give a donation and save a shaky Dalmatian”, if it was done in this manner). The triumph of the album though is the quietly brilliant “Carol Brown”, a litany of clichéd excuses given by partners when you are being dumped, which manages to walk the fine line between touchingly honest and funny, and not just because so many of us have been through it all many many times.
For a comedic TV-series tie-in, I Told You I Was Freaky is surprisingly good, mainly because it’s obvious that these two guys genuinely understand, and also have a deep appreciation of, music. There’s nothing smug or clever here, it’s a comedy by music fans for other music fans and while it was never going to be a huge mainstream success, it amused exactly the market it was aimed at and they had the good grace to walk away from the TV show before its audience walked away. Clever trick that.