Comic rock duo Tenacious D’s (Jack Black, vocals and guitar and Kyle Gass, guitar and vocals) third album, Rize of the Fenix, finds the tasteless twosome perilously close to full-blown rock stardom.
In their minds, of course, but that’s where and why they sound so good.
As a parody of the pretension in rock, none do it better than Tenacious. Even the suggestive third-rate artwork, pothead fantasy themes and titles so cliché and stupid that they’re great, can’t mar the mastery of focused- in buttrock that the D have mastered.
The pasteurized blues-rock riffs, tacked on psychedelic flourishes and posturing arrangements (Rize of the Fenix, Deth Starr) have irresistible pull. There’s a lot of substance in the D’s material, although they highlight the worst of 1970s/’80s prog-rock breakdowns and self-important ‘serious’ lyrics.
The band’s love of self-mythology permeates everything they do, making them underdog rock stars.
Their bloated arrangements, macho-man vocals and self-satisfied blues-rock riffs complete the grand illusion.
Song titles give hints of the musical treasures within (Low Hangin Fruit, Senorita, Throw Down) and it’s probable that Black and Gass spent some time listening to Uriah Heep and Survivor (of Eye of the Tiger fame) while sitting around.
While the lyrics that Black belts out are unabashedly lurid, they’re also irresistibly funny and insightful.
The D are unsurpassed in the lost art of story songs. Roadie is hilariously nasty but truthful; a song that any roadie would find respectable – it gets their back! The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage chronicles the weird career of Black and Gass up to this point. It’s clear that satire and excess abide in the souls of Tenacious D.
The band has serious skills in arrangement and Black’s pseudo-operatic bluster is ear-friendly and compelling. When the clown-like duo is aided by Dave Grohl on drums and John Konesky on electric guitar, the mock rockers are exploded. It’s almost as if the jesters become the wankers.
But the D are lucky. They immerse themselves in and wallow in the muck of rock and roll fantasy while exposing its idiocy. Being a moron never sounded so good.