Before I started writing this review, I listened to this album between forty and fifty times - over and over and over. I'd listen to it in the shower, while studying, while reading, and even overnight once or twice. I also reread all of my previous reviews, looking for a couple key phrases, none of which I found. I'd never labeled a band in that oh-so-pretentious manner of "Not Being True To Their Origins."
Well, as it turns out, Tenacious D really hasn't been true to their previous identity. They were a side-splittingly crude, ostensibly Satan-empowered acoustic duo based around power chords. They're still most of those things, but what they've become is an ultra-polished rock band, with help from a couple notables from the music community. Is this bad? Well, no, not really - but it's different than I expected, and it loses a bit of novelty.
The album starts out really nicely - JB and KG (Jack Black and Kyle Gass) are chatting, being themselves, and they burst into song. It's all fairly laid-back, candor-filled dialogue that works well for bringing a bit of charm. The songs start to diverge from the familiar versions when the electric guitars drop in heavily on "Tribute" (which, as they say, isn't the greatest song in the world - just a tribute!) and Explosivo.
"Wonderboy" - which has evidently gotten a lot of radio play lately - is a neat song about super heroes. It's followed up by one of the most crude bits of dialogue I've ever heard, and then just afterward is "Fuck Her Gently" - one of the most beautiful, lovely songs about having rough intercourse I've ever heard. "Dio" is a plea to Dio to set aside the torch - Gass and Black want in on the action.
Track nine, "Inward Singing," features the "Greatest invention since yodeling" - singing on the breath-in cycle. It concludes with Black laying out a stream of profanities ending in his frustrated firing of Gass, setting up the next song, "Kyle Quit the Band." Don't worry, they get back together by track 11. From there on, the dialogue gets a bit confused and I'm not sure how it all fits together. More infighting occurs, punctuated by the peculiarly combative songs.
"Double Team" is surprise highlight, featuring seductive Jack Black, acoustic funk lines and the utterly dynamic interjection "...here me and KG come naked, out of the side hatch!" If you choose to buy the album, I want you to immediately find the photo of Gass and Black in their underpants and then think of this line. "City Hall," the epic ending song, is a testament to the pseudo-pomp in which Tenacious D is drenched.
One of the major aspects of Tenacious D is that they aren't rock stars. They are just two guys - yeah, Black has been in a couple movies - that think they're hot shit. But they aren't. They sing songs about groupies and having sex and "rocking your socks off," but they're really just two guys playing acoustic guitar in a bar. Did they lose that with this album? A little bit, yeah - but it's still a great listen. It's fun, in that George Carlin type way, and it's good music, but it's not as ironic as the stage shows were.