tue 23/07/2024

CD: David Brent & Foregone Conclusion - Life on the Road | reviews, news & interviews

CD: David Brent & Foregone Conclusion - Life on the Road

CD: David Brent & Foregone Conclusion - Life on the Road

Ricky Gervais takes his comic creation off the road and puts him into the studio

Slough's response to John Betjeman

“I don’t really care about reviews because if someone slags it off, they’ve missed the joke. How can they slag off a fictional character? It’s win-win. It’s pain-free. It’s bulletproof – commercially and critically.”

Ricky Gervais there, talking about the album tie-in with his new film David Brent: Life on the Road. In many ways, he’s right: the songs, written in the guise of Gervais’ best comic creation, are meant to be bad, but entertainingly so, like, say, Spinal Tap. It's a comparison that Gervais doesn't shy away from: “Once you know the context, you can enjoy the songs without jokes, because you sort of get it," he says. "It’s like watching Spinal Tap.”

As for the songs, they’re very funny in parts, excruciating in others

This idea, that comedy songs can thrive outside their surroundings, is one I'm unsure about. For all the copies of Life on the Road that will be sold (and judging by the ticket sales to the forthcoming gigs, it’ll certainly do okay), I just can’t imagine it will actually be played that much. Pissed students doing a singalong high on helium perhaps, but probably not. That's no reflection on the album, however – I love Spinal Tap, but not once have I ever thought I might like to listen to the songs in isolation rather than stick the film on. The album serves only as a memento of the film, a keepsake.

Gervais has also said that the album is being released, “Purely to enhance the realism of a fictional character in the real world.” That’s fine, though it seems odd reasoning when you consider how well Brent is already established as a fictional character, albeit one seen through a vérité lens.

As for the songs, they’re very funny in parts, excruciating in others, and a convincing representation of exactly the sort of thing that Brent would do (given a huge amount of cash). Job done. Except there's a nagging sense throughout that something's missing. Ultimately, the album suffers from an absence of visual reference. David Brent is a character who has to be seen to be believed – the ticks, gestures and expressions are vital to our understanding of him, not to mention our enjoyment – and that’s a problem. While Gervais wants Life on the Road to add context to character, it is, ultimately, stripped of character by a lack of context.

The problem with the album is that David Brent is a character who has to be seen to be believed

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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