Tenacious D had a difficult task with their sophomore release. Hhow does the "greatest band" in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll follow up the greatest album in Rock ‘n’ Roll? Why, wait 5 years and make a movie, of course. The Pick of Destiny serves as the D’s second album and soundtrack to their film.
And there’s the rub. Many of the tracks are plot-driven (“Break-In City” and “Car Chase City” in particular), and don’t have the same effect if you haven’t seen the film. The album’s slim runtime (33 minutes for 15 songs) is a little disheartening too. Many tracks are under two minutes (three songs are under a minute), and that leaves the listener somewhat unfulfilled.
There are few gems in there though; “Kickapoo” chronicles Jabbles’ youth, in a mini rock opera featuring guest appearances from Meat Loaf and Ronnie James Dio. As well, the other multi-part set piece “Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)” is terrific, with Dave Grohl playing the part of the Dark Lord himself.
But those two tracks are big showcase numbers, and should not take the light away from other great tracks; “History”, “POD” and “Dude (I Totally Miss You)” in particular. “POD” and “Dude” illustrate how the band has matured in their songwriting. Sure the lyrics are laced with profanities and are somewhat silly (“POD” contains the wonderfully ridiculous lyric “she who is snarky is full of malarkey”), but the music is strong and melodic, and really does seriously rock.
It’s unfortunate that the D’s second album doesn’t reach the delirious heights of their debut, but keep this in mind: The Clash followed their brilliant debut with a lackluster second album, and followed that with the masterpiece London Calling
. Perhaps the D can redeem themselves in similar fashion.