It's no secret that I've been eagerly anticipating the release of The Lonely Island's Incredibad. Ever since hearing of their hiring at SNL (Samberg as featured player, Taccone and Schaffer as writers) I knew they would bring a new energy to the show. With the meteoric rise of their digital shorts, they have in no small part helped usher SNL into the 21st century.
As for the album, I've already written that I was excited to hear some of the digital short musical numbers without the interference of audience laughter and network censorship, and for the most part, the songs deliver. "Natalie's Rap" is an especially nice, clean track with a kind of mellow west coast/G-funk rolling bass that contrasts humorously with Natalie Portman's hyper-aggressive girly screech.
It's the attention to musical detail that makes Incredibad work. That is, despite the (oftentimes) trivial lyrical content, there is throughout a deep breadth of musical knowledge under the surface. Take "Natalie's Rap" again. Yes, it's entertaining to hear her say she'll kill your dog for fun (so don't push her!), but what really does it for me is that the whole song is one long homage to Eazy-E's "No More Questions" (the interview format, the west coast gangster sensibility, and of course the last line of the song). That the song is just as good with or without this knowledge is part of what makes the Lonely Island so great when they are on their game.
Initially, I felt like a lot of these great productions were being wasted when paired with such novelty, throwaway vocals. ("Ras Trent" is a Sly & Robbie production, and a pretty good one at that.) After some consideration though, a lot of music these days is just as lyrically vapid, and not even with the Dudes' winking self-awareness. Is the chorus of the hilarious "I'm on a Boat" (Everybody look at me / 'Cause I'm sailing on a boat!) really any more or less stupid than Mims' "This is Why I'm Hot," a #1 single that has, by my count, a chorus built on eleven words?
ANYWAY, despite all of these strengths there still remains a fatal flaw which precludes me from being able to recommend a purchase of this album: the glaring omission of "Iran So Far." As the song shows up neither in the album proper or the bonus DVD, I can only guess that there was some issue with the clearance of the (brilliant) Aphex Twin sample. As I commented on a previous post, this was the song I was most excited to hear on the album--it is not only an elegantly simple composition, but lyrically it also serves as high-minded political satire. In any case, the lack of "Iran" is a non-starter for me, and drops my final rating for the album from four to three stars out of five.
Bonus: the Dudes have put up a free download of the Incredibad digital booklet. It's worth a look.