Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, co-creators of Flight of the Conchords the band and “Flight of the Conchords” the HBO TV show are geniuses. They’ve developed unique comedic personas rooted in their ability to use music as a humorous tool. With deadpan delivery, disarming charm and an adorable kookiness, McKenzie and Clement sing about aspects of their fictionalized lives as struggling New Zealand artists living in New York City.

Flight of the Conchords

I Told You I Was Freaky
Sub Pop

Ten seconds into I Told You I Was Freaky, this comedic talent is obvious.

Crafty and clever as ever, the duo maintains its comedic angle on the its new album. Musically speaking, however, Freaky is an awkward combination of several novelty songs and a slew of synthpop tracks. It is unbalanced and often annoyingly repetitive. Many of the tracks cannot stand squarely on their own — separated from the context of the TV show, the songs lose their zing.

“Sugalumps,” a watered-down parody of the Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps,” is unimpressive in the musical sense. The bleep-bloopy synth loops are flat and uninteresting, and the song’s musical development is almost non-existent.

On the TV show, however, McKenzie and Clement’s unabashed confidence to boast that their “sugalumps” are “sweet and white and highly refined” — combined with the duo’s fearless dance moves — gives “Sugalumps” its life. While it is hilarious to watch these sexually harmless men spread their legs on TV to showcase the “family jewelry,” this ha-ha moment is missing on the album.

The less organic songs on Freaky are more often the ones lost in translation from TV to album. It’s as if the spare synthy tracks need the duo’s TV antics to patch up the gaping musical holes. When Flight of the Conchords upgraded from their customary folky acoustics to a heavy use of drum machines, synthesizers and tape loops, something was bungled in the mix.

Still, there’s enough of the good ol’ Conchords on the new album. “Hurt Feelings” emphasizes the classic naivety of McKenzie and Clement’s characters —listeners will recognize the mini-piano sound from first season classic “If You’re into It,” and find comfort in its familiar tinkles. “Rambling Through the Avenues of Time” and “Carol Brown” similarly showcase McKenzie and Clement at their best. The songs work as songs (although the video for “Hurt Feelings” is hilarious) and display the duo’s genuine musical and lyrical talent.

“We’re Both In Love With a Sexy Lady” is an R&B upgrade of “Jenny,” a rambling acoustic number from McKenzie and Clement’s stand-up act. Like its spiritual predecessor, “Sexy Lady” is a Conchords specialty — it tells a story in real time, and intentionally has no structure. The subtle craftwork injected into the track reflects the talent of the ‘Chords. Lyrically constructed, but performed with a delicate act of improvisation, “Sexy Lady” is one of the album’s best tracks.

I Told You I Was Freaky demonstrates that Flight of the Conchords comes as a package: Without McKenzie and Clement’s spot-on facial expressions and an understanding of their TV characters, it can be hard to appreciate the duo’s talent. But for ardent followers of the band, the album functions as a portable version of Conchords comedy — the gaps are largely forgiven because McKenzie and Clement and their every hilarious action and expression are tattooed on our brains.

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