Hiphopapotamus Ditches Diehards for Autopilot

    Flight of the Conchords
    I Told You I Was Freaky
    Sub Pop
    4/10

    Two years ago, Flight of the Conchords burst onto the scene as New Zealand’s greatest export since, well, ever. The folk-pop/hip-hop/rock duo mixed bone-dry wit with an impressively eclectic palette of beats to earn cult status with an acclaimed HBO season. Genius-imbued songs like “A Kiss is Not a Contract” and “If You’re into It” destined these self-deprecating hipsters for prolonged stardom.

    In contrast, the Conchords’ latest album release, I Told You I Was Freaky, is a frustrating, disappointing listen for any diehard.

    The story goes that Season One’s episodes were written around tour-tested material, making the show more of a musical comedy than a sitcom with music. After a successful first run, HBO extended the Conchords’ contract and asked Brett McKenzie and Jemaine Clement to come up with a slew of new songs and plotlines. Judging by Freaky, it seems the Hiphopopotamus and Rhymenoceros weren’t up to the task.

    This sophomore slump lacks the variation — and virtuoso — of the first season’s musical grab bag, instead churning out one unfunny dud after another. “I Got Hurt Feelings,” a rap anthem playing up the pair’s sentimentality, is quirky as ever, but continually loops the same boring, Garage Band-beginner production. While jokes about testicles should carry the Conchords with ease, “Sugalumps” relies too much on equally generic electro-pop straight off Fergie’s cutting-room floor, stuffing our stockings with lumps of coal like “All these bitches checkin’ out my britches.” Come on, gents, you’re better than that.

    McKenzie and Clement are extremely talented musicians, but we’re hard-pressed to find a single track on their latest that’s not performed by a synthesizer. Rare cuts like “You Don’t Have to Be a Prostitute” — which melds the Police’s “Roxanne” with Ziggy Marley reggae — reveal flashes of the Conchords of old, but are soon buried in the rubble.

    Their previous hits played off the banality of a struggling two-man novelty band living in Manhattan, but Conchords’ the new tracks offer nothing more than moderately amusing dialogue over uninspired beats. The only real option now is to pretend that they gracefully retired after the first season, bowing out as legends and never getting the chance to disappoint on their second time around.

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