Tenacious D is back with its first album since 2012’s Rize of the Fenix. On Post-Apocalypto, Jack Black and Kyle Gass try to navigate an apocalyptic landscape with their comedy rock. The album follows the storyline of the band’s YouTube series of the same title, in which civilization has been destroyed by the dropping of nuclear bombs.
This album displays flashes of musical ingenuity in the midst of Tenacious D’s ridiculous sense of humor. “Take Us Into Space” uses twangy folk-rock guitar riffs and deep, drawn-out vocals to convey Black’s and Gass’ humorous desperation to leave the hellscape on Earth for an utopian space station.
Tenacious D provides overtly political messages throughout 21 tracks and reinforces themes of the human impact on the environment. “Desolation” questions the effects of human technological progress. “Humanity, what have we done to Mother Earth?” sings the duo. The non-musical segments effectively direct the me, giving listeners a palatable story to follow alongside Tenacious D’s rock comedy bits. Though outwardly silly and nonsensical, the album actually has a coherent story arc. Black and Gass notably comment on human nature and capitalist society.
The bizarre characters like a German MIT scientist and a lonely robot ingrain themselves into the songs. The inexplicable character arcs force listeners to pay attention to Post-Apocalypto’s lyrics to get a proper laugh out of them. The robot’s story rings heartfelt and entertaining.
“Everyone sees me/ But no one understands that feeling inside/ When I have an empty hand,” the character sings. This album is almost like watching a musical, in the sense that appreciating the songs means listening to them within the great context of the whole.
Tenacious D is still as outrageous as ever. Later tracks, such as the Latin-tinged country rocker “Making Love,” give a whole new meaning to repopulating the world. On “Scientists,” Black takes on the role of a scientist. He asks Tenacious D to “blow our minds” and take them to space to save them from the dire situation on Earth. The band responds with “Take Us Into Space,” a cut full of hopeful crescendos and witty lyrics like, “We’re gonna kick it with Richard Branson.”
Though the dystopian backdrop provides a nice change of pace, this album largely remains true to the spirited campfire rock on which Tenacious D hangs its humor. However, tracks like “Daddy Ding Dong” return the band back toward its heavy metal roots, complete with angry vocals and the gritty intensity that is typical of the duo. As Black growls “I’m pure rage,” it’s clear that Tenacious D still has no problem being gleefully obnoxious in its approach to musical comedy. Tracks like this one benefit from the addition of percussive tour de force Dave Grohl. His bodacious playing does wonders for Tenacious D’s insatiable energy.
The album closes with the uplifting mantra of “Save The World,” where the band calls upon the children of earth to work together to save the planet. This song is followed by a reprise of the “Post-Apocalypto Theme,” effectively bookending a cartoonish journey with Grohl’s propulsive drums and fast, rhythmic acoustic guitar.
Tenacious D again supports the bridge between rock and comedy with a compelling concept. Comedic brilliance and musical proficiency make Post-Apocalypto worth a listen and a good laugh. Songs like “Robot” offer sensitive and delicate insights on loneliness and trying to fit in, while the inherent irony of “Hope,” given the circumstances, embodies the band’s black humor. Post-Apocalypto has all the absurd charm to win over those unfamiliar with Tenacious D.
Follow writer Zachary James at Twitter.com/ZachyyJames.