It would be hard as a student not to have come into contact with Bret Mckenzie and Jemaine Clement’s subtly brilliant brand of musical burlesque. If you happen to be deaf, you will at least know them as the reason animal jumpers are now in improbable vogue. After spending their best on last year’s release, scheduling commitments left them little time to restock their catalogue, but while there is a lot to love here, this strain is at times painfully apparent.
Rather than taking on entire genres as before, many tracks here are parodies of particular songs. You Don’t Have to Be a Prostitute takes on that liver-damaging classic of Sting’s, Roxanne, only now the game is “drink every time you bemoan their decline into Weird Al Yankovic territory” — you’ll get plastered. Similarly, I Told You I Was Freaky is fun, but its reliance on nonsense rhyme has a Mighty Boosh vibe to it that is truly disheartening, containing none of the observational acuity that so set them apart in the past.
Disappointments aside, there do exist real high points on this album. Too Many Dicks (On The Dance Floor) is a fantastic, vocoder-led protest for diversity in the disco, while new romantic send-up Fashion is Danger and acapella lullaby Friends also hit the mark. None of these gems are so beautifully conceived, however, as penultimate track Carol Brown, a gently hilarious, bossa nova amble through Jermaine’s romantic history. Not overtly a parody of anything, it dispels any notions that their only talent lies in aping others. These are greatly talented and acutely tuned musicians. If only this collection truly did them justice.