The Lonely Island, TURTLENECK & CHAIN

I believe the best parts of Saturday Night Live these days are the "Digital Shorts," and those get collected into albums from the Lonely Island (fronted by Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone, with guest appearances from singers like Akon, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Beck, and even Michael Bolton). Turtleneck & Chain, their sophomore release, is a bit more juvenile than their first album, Incredibad.

The tone for Turtleneck & Chain is set from the opening, "We're Back!" as the singers try to out-offend each other with gross penis jokes. It's one-joke concepts that are hit or miss through the album.

Is it funny to record a track in honor of mothers, complete with hissy fits when the mom interrupts the recording? Not really. Nor are songs solely about feces ("Trouble on Dookie Island"), shy women ("Attracted to Us") or turtlenecks, thin gold chains, and light beer (as on the title track).

The funny thing is, sometimes this approach works. "I Just Had Sex" is only about guys who very recently got laid, yet it has infections enthusiasm behind it. "Jack Sparrow" has a pretty standard rap tune being interrupted by Michael Bolton's movie references, yet it's pretty funny. (Sadly, this video isn't on the bonus disc with several movies.) "Threw It on the Ground" has a wannabe protester expressing his anger at "the system" by throwing almost everything on the ground. "The Creep" may work better as a music video (with its, er, creepy dance moves shown by Nicki Minaj and the guys looking like John Waters), but it's still fun. And even "Shy Ronnie 2" -- about an inept bank robber too shy to give orders -- has a certain charm. (And if you wondered what could follow "Dick in a Box," Samberg and Timberlake offer an unusual swap in "Motherlover.")

And so, Turtleneck and Chain is an uneven album. When it works, the songs are infectious and fun; when it doesn't work, they make two or three minutes feel too long for the repetition. Fortunately, the good outnumbers the bad -- and the music video dvd is a very nice plus -- making this a decent comedy album.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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