Band meeting. Bret? ‘Present’. Jemaine? ‘Present'.
Ten years after the end of their hit HBO TV show, ‘New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo’ are back with a live album recorded on a mammoth UK tour last year.
The old songs bring back nostalgic memories, and ‘Bowie’ has never been so endearing, performed in the wake of the legend’s recent passing. Of the new songs, ‘A Gender Reversal Reversal’ packs the best punchlines and tackiest rhymes (“I’m gonna touch your boob-a in the back of the Uber”). A raunchy watercooler romance between Ian (cockney Bret) and Deanna (baritone Jemaine) it’s a reminder of the ridiculous fun the two friends have with parodies of artists they clearly have a lot of genuine affection for.
An audio recording of one of the Conchords live shows never quite does justice to Bret’s cock-rock posturing (with a comically distorted acoustic guitar) or Jemaine’s repertoire of brilliant facial expressions, but the ‘We Will Rock You’ audience stomp-clamp during a medieval ode to “wooing a lady” is brilliantly absurd. It only makes sense for them to end the song with a four-way recorder battle. A mid-song acapella dual rap breakdown in ‘The Ballad of Stana’ is genuinely impressive, never mind that they have to keep a straight face while detailing that the badass having a big “eroony” is actually “a rumour spread by bad guys.”
The between song chat is perfectly choreographed with a “very rock and roll” anecdote about a hotel muffin appearing twenty minutes later in the middle of a song. ‘Inner City Pressure’ is still the genius Pet Shop parody it’s always been, and ‘Robots’ still lovingly performed with its original millennium bug references. It’s a shame they never made it around to a whole new series or film from which to base another album of original songs, but it’s a small comfort to know that after twenty years together Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are still capable of amusing themselves with these often nonsensical ditties.
No, probably not on the ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ tier of live albums, but it’ll probably have you pissing yourself laughing on the bus and that’s no bad thing.