Tenacious D is the greatest band in the world. Jack Black and Kyle Gass have mastered the lyric and the guitar riff to such a notable extent that they have surpassed the work of any other poet or artist known to mankind, ever (except for maybe Bob Dylan. Or Shakespeare). Their sophomore album “The Pick of Destiny” secures this duo’s place as the most innovative, talented group of today, yesterday and tomorrow. And here is why…
A song is nothing without a tune, and Tenacious D knows this. Black and Gass are guitar pros, playing toward the horizon, breaking every convention in the process. On the opening track “Kickapoo,” freewheeling guitars kick the album off to a rocket-speed start, and there’s no turning back. They make the smart decision and stay away from chords, playing the melody basically without backing. When the lyrics are as profound as theirs, there is no need to confuse the matter. Later, “Master Exploder” shows off a smooth, Journey-esque electric guitar and a rollicking acoustic. These guys can strum!
Add lyrics to these melodies and now we’re talking powerful stuff. Black and Gass once again prove their understanding of the importance of simplicity with the subtlety of their lyrics. “Oh the dragon’s balls were blazin’ as I stepped into his cave,/ Then I sliced his fuckin’ cockles with a long shiny blade” they sing on “Kickapoo,” leaving much up to the imagination. And on “Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown),” their words and harmonies are nothing but pure: “Wait wait wait you mother-fucker/ we challenge you to a rock-off,/ Give us one chance to rock your socks off.” Their ability to conquer emotion through their music is also astounding. With another song about playing with the Devil (remember “Tribute”?), it seems like maybe Satan is now trading in name drops rather than souls.
Also astounding are the vocal registers of these two paragons of musical achievement. Their voices are wholesome, contaminated by neither synthesizers nor singing lessons. Both men can at once achieve the rich quality of a bass and the clear falsetto of a prepubescent boy. Do you know who can’t accomplish such feats? Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, Aaron Carter, the list goes on.
Furthermore, Tenacious D masterfully conquers the concept album where so many others have failed. The Beatles tried on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and Pink Floyd on “The Wall,” but let’s be frank, those were both kinda lame. But “The Pick of Destiny,” the soundtrack to Black and Gass’ upcoming film, possesses all the vision and coherence of a conceptual art piece. The album tells the story of how Black and Gass met, how they formed a band and how, somewhere along the line, they fought a few mythical beasts. It’s sweeping. It’s cinematic. It’s music at its most meaningful.
Most importantly, however, Tenacious D has a message. On their previous album, they taught many important lessons, the most memorable, of course, being “Fuck Her Gently.” On “The Pick of Destiny,” Black and Gass continue to favor refinement over bombast as they pose a challenging question on “The Divide”: “You have to decide. Tits or destiny?” For anyone with a shred of common sense, the answer is simple: Tits.
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