All right, back for another CD review here at Sudsonbleeker! This week I've been asked to review the debut album from a kiwi comedy duo who call themselves (and this album) Flight of the Conchords. Since I'd not heard of the group prior to this review, I'm going to assume that some of you out there may also be unaware of their existence - possibly even doubt it. Well, rest assured the group does in fact exist and as their accents prove they're from the little island off the coast of the more popularly known nation of New Guinea - New Zealand! That's where the green fruit with brown fur, the kiwi, comes from. Put it together.

Flight of the Conchords consists of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, both sadly from New Zealand. The pair joined forces in 1998 at the Victoria University of Wellington, a New Zealand attempt at 'higher learning'. While there they attempted to study film and 'theatre', which is the New Zealand way of saying "movies and musicals". Unfortunately, they never did succeed at that, so instead they gave up and settled for a BBC radio series in the long-ago-defeated empire of England. However, even in their failure to obtain greatness they ended up getting a real live American TV show (also called Flight of the Conchords) which goes to show that in America pretty much anyone can succeed if they quit trying for long enough.

Despite all these setbacks, the pair was allowed to perform at the South by Southwest "music" festival in Austin, Texas. While the vast size of this southern mega-state intimidated them, they turned to tunes in an effort to assuage their torn pride and if you know anything about Texas you instantly realize the accidental genius of their choice in places to repair broken pride. They arose like a flaming kiwi Phoenix and managed to win a Grammy for their album The Distant Future in February of 2008. I'm sure no one's yet told them that no one currently living actually cares about Grammy's, but I don't want to be the first, either. So here's to them winning a Grammy for Best Comedy Album!

All of that's fine and grand, but in reference to one of their tracks, it's "Business Time." What we've got with their debut album is fifteen tracks. The thrust of the disc is the group's attempt at performing hip hop. Since New Zealand's prevalent style of music is still disco, you'll experience many flashbacks to that bygone era of glitter and bathroom counter coke runs.

Alright, I'll be serious. The album's poking fun at the now worldwide phenomenon of hip hop culture. If you ask me, that's much like trying to shoot an elephant with an air rifle - sure you can't help but hit your target, however it's not going to do much damage. I do think the group kept things creative and strayed from the complete goofiness of other hip hop parodies, coming up instead with quirky and creative twists such as "Mutha'uckas" where they weave a tale about fruits and threaten to leave a clerk to "wake up in a smoothie". Along these same lines is "Hippopotamus vs Rhymenoceros" where they inform us, "They call me Hippopotamus, my lyrics are bottomless," which is followed by a drawn out pause suggesting that was about all they could do with that rhyme. There are quite a few chuckles worthy and even laugh out loud moments throughout the album - and you should know my viper-deadly serious nature rarely allows me to wallow in mirth in such a way.

One confusing element to the album is the first track, "Foux du Fafa" which according to Babelfish (the web-based translation service) means "Foux of the Fafa" in French. This song basically showcases the pair using stereotypical French accents and saying things like "parlez vous francais?" (speak French?) and "soup du jour" (soup of the day). Essentially the phrases that newcomers to a foreign language learn. For me I'd have pretty much not gone any further if I weren't reviewing this entire album. That's too bad because the rest of the album offers quite a bit more, but I'm still puzzled as to why they chose to begin things with that track.

Despite the fact that they're not playing actual hip hop styles (for the most part), they do manage to convey a lot of that over zealous, angsty tone that's prevalent in today's radio-friendly hip hop. Their song "Inner City Pressure" showcases their accents, giving us a tale of their woes about being broke. The line, "No one cares, no one sympathizes so ya just stay home and play synthesizers," actually goes a long way in adequately describing quite a few aspiring hip hop musicians I've met. For a funny song it actually accidentally hits the mark.

Several of the album's songs delve into the tricky territory of gender issues. Oh, who am I kidding? They sing a bunch of songs about girls and most of them are super hilarious. Let me give you a few of the better lines instead of boring you guys with outlines of each track, ok?

"We're talkin' brunettes not fighter jets" - Ladies of the World (probably the funniest, also offering tribute to ALL the ladies, even "sexy hermaphrodites")

"I like pie" - Leggy Blonde, a Beatles-esque ode to some girl in an office

"I want to tell her how hot she is but she'll think I'm sexist. She's so hot she's makin' me sexist. Bitch." - Boom, a Shaggy-esque take on reggae

"Just because you've been exploring my mouth doesn't mean you get to take an expedition to the south" - A Kiss is Not a Contract, a hilarious flip of gender roles when it comes to being prudes

"You're so beautiful you could be a part-time model" - The Most Beautiful Girl [In the Room], a really funny love song parody

"You lean in and whisper something in my ear like, 'I might go to bed, I've got work in the morning" - Business Time, a truly hilarious ballad about sex in long term relationships

There are also a couple hilarious tracks that have something of a sci-fi twist to them. There's Robots where the two speak in robotic tones and geeks may particularly like the bit where they actually speak in binary. However, I felt it portrayed robots in an unfair light, casting them once again as humanity's destroyers rather than artificial intelligence with a right to live however they best see fit.

Finally, just before the last track which pretty much stinks, there's "Bowie" which is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the mastermind you've probably witnessed in the movie Labyrinth. He did some work in Britain for various musical groups as well, including cover songs for the late rockstar Ziggy Stardust. The song's quite funny and actually covers the use of narcotics in space which I neither condone nor encourage.

I guess that rounds things out! I'll say the album rates a 3 out of 5 since it's intended as comedy rather than an earnest social message. If you're already high then I think this'll be beyond hilarious. So yes, college students, you and your friends will laugh yourselves a few IQ points lower with this one and that's okay because life's going to curb stomp you any ways, right?

In a time of rising gas prices and a looming war with either Iran or Venezuala, I've got to applaud those crazy kiwis for trying to make life a little brighter by mocking popular misery, but I've got a downer note to end on. The duo's signed to Sub Pop records. Remember them? They had Nirvana during the 90's. Let's hope these guys can avoid the smack and lay down more tracks... yo.



Lyrics submitted by mike

Flight of the Conchords song meanings
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    General Commentcome one buddy, do some research before you review something. typing in flight of the conchords into wikipedia is not a substantial source of research. maybe you should of watched an episode first. if you know they have their own television show (which is actually extremely popular. just because you don't know it, don't assume nobody else does) OBVIOUSLY some of the songs taken out of context wouldn't make sense. And pleaaase find a better way to describe new zealand. it makes YOU look stupid. annyyyywayy thanks for the review. don't mind me, i'm just a massive jemaine fan and am easily angered by anyone who would give flights less then a 5/5 haha. but seriously, give flights a watch
    mestiphos_realmon August 02, 2008   Link

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