Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Lonely Island

  • Incredibad [Universal/Republic, 2009] A-
  • Turtleneck & Chain [Universal Republic, 2011] A-
  • The Wack Album [Republic, 2013] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Incredibad [Universal/Republic, 2009]
It isn't just "D--k in a Box" and its explosive sequel "J--z in My Pants." Andy Samberg and his Berkeley homeboys are the funniest musical comedy act since Spinal Tap. Actual musicians help--world-beating T-Pain more than world-weary Julian Casablancas. So do other actors--foul Natalie Portman more than hammy Jack Black. The keepers clock in at around 2:30, before the laughs dry up. These posers sing the new bling: "You can call us Aaron Burr/From the way we're droppin' Hamiltons." A-

Turtleneck & Chain [Universal Republic, 2011]
Here's a bonus DVD you'll want to waste a little time with. Funny thing is, though, some of these songs are funnier without the videos that are their reason for being. The Mr. Softee boasts of "We're Back!" need no visualization in a musical mode that's pumped phallocentric nonsense since Eazy-E was a woman beater, and "I Just Had Sex" seems less pathetic than it deserves when you glom the hotties who are putting bags over our antiheroes' heads. Then again, the over-the-top "Motherlover" is cut down to size when you glom its confident middle-aged sex objects, whereas Michael Bolton's "Jack Sparrow" feature falls flat without the movie takeoffs you can only find online. Parody is hard to sustain. That this follow-up provides so many laughs without flailing around in can-you-top-this? is a tribute to the comedians' musicality and their musician friends' sense of comedy. A-

The Wack Album [Republic, 2013]
Struggling for cred as aging rappers will, they stumble occasionally. Some of these ideas obviously seemed funnier when they brainstormed them--the Bloomberg rap that could be any cartoon mayor's, the incomprehensible "Spell It Out," the flat conceit of not giving a "honk"--and many come down well on the amusing side of hilarious. But most are amusing, and a few--the Robyn-fueled dance instructions of "Go Kindergarten," the manly boasts of "Diaper Money," the you-only-live-once-(so-watch-it) advisory that builds to "Two words about furniture: killing machines"--are as inspired as anything on Incredibad, where they wouldn't have fit because the rappers were younger then. Best DVD extra: the gay marriage-themed "Spring Break Anthem." B+