Just in case you’ve never heard of Flight of the Conchords, the self-proclaimed No. 2 folk-parody duo from New Zealand, do yourself a favor and hop onto YouTube.com to do some research. For those in the know, the band has finally released its first full-length album, full of hits from the pair’s HBO series such as “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenocerous” and “Business Time.”
Flight of the Conchords, consisting of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, met while sharing a flat (that’s British for “apartment”) at Victoria University of Wellington and immediately hit it off, applying their musical talents to their dry yet witty brand of observational humor. After touring around in Europe, they eventually landed a spot on BBC Radio, and from there, a show on HBO chronicling their search for fame in New York.
The CD is entirely songs from the TV show, so fans shouldn’t expect anything too new on the album, but to the delight of fans, the songs stand surprisingly well on their own without the visual element to bolster them.
The first track, “Foux da Fafa,” is entirely about the duo attempting to use French to seduce women, only to realize that they don’t speak French. Highlights include dropping the name “Gérard Depardieu” and the repetition of “baguette.” The climax is amazingly humorous, albeit predictable, when Clement is presented with a phrase he can’t decipher. When asked “O?? est la piscine?” – French for “Where is the pool?” – his repeated “ehhh?” makes the track awkwardly hilarious. It all builds up to the final question of “Parlez-vous le fran?§ais?” which of course is answered with “…non.” It sounds cliché on paper, but the Conchords make it new again.
The next great song (note that all of the tracks are good, just some are more wondrous than others) is the classic “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenocerous,” in which McKenzie and Clement exchange insults via their rapper alter egos. When a song begins with “They call me the rhymenocerous/ Not because I’m fat/ Not because I’ve got birds on my back/ Because I’m horny, I’m horny,” you know it’s going to be good. When Clement takes over the mic, he drops the line “They call me the Hiphopopotamus/ My lyrics are bottomless” and then promptly stops rapping for the rest of the verse. When he picks it up again, the audience is reminded that “I’m not a large water-dwelling mammal/ Where did you get that preposterous hypothesis?/ Did Steve tell you that, perchance?/ [grumbles] Steve…”
Perhaps this should have been mentioned earlier, but if you can’t find humor in the ludicrous and absurd, then you shouldn’t waste your time with Flight of the Conchords. Nearly every “joke” is more about the delivery and context than the line itself. “Leggy Blonde,” a number about … well … a leggy blonde, contains the brilliant line, “I had a budgie but it died/ Whoa-whoa/ I like pie.” The song’s hilarity comes from the fact that everyone knows what a song of the sort is going to say, so it just doesn’t bother to say anything. The chorus, in fact, is just the words “Leggy-leggy-leggy-leggy/ Blondie-blondie-blondie-blondie” repeated ad nauseam.
The highlight of the album is “Business Time,” a tribute to sleazy “lay-you-down-by-the-fire”-type love songs. Clement croons in a spoken tone, “Ah, yeah, tonight we’re going to make love, and you know how I know? Because it’s Wednesday, and Wednesday is the day we make love. Tuesday night, we usually go to your mother’s house and I teach her how to use the video machine again, but Wednesday nights we make love.” Is anything beyond that line necessary? Resoundingly, no.
If you only kind of like the songs but really like the show, pick up the first season on DVD. If you’re a die-hard and want to be able to bother your friends with your impeccable knowledge of the lyrics, this album is a must-have.