Review Summary: It's not quite "Running With Scissors" or "Off the Deep end", but Al proves he still has what it takes to parody pop's finest
Comedy is perhaps the most deceptively simple genre, regardless of medium. It's easy to get a cheap laugh, but it's quite another story to keep an audience laughing, and notoriously difficult to make it through without at least a couple of gags that fall flat. Any comedian worth his salt spends a good number of years honing his material, learning to work with his audience and finding his own original style.
Luckily for comedy fans, 'Weird AL' Yankovic has managed to navigate this narrow path with considerable skill and grace for more than two decades, and eight times out of ten the laughs have come easily. Al has built a career around a body of work that ranges from the silly, the satirical, to the downright bizarre, and done so with surpising strength as a musician and lyricist.
But what does all this ammount to, with the release of his thirteenth studio album? Not much can be said about 'Alpocalypse' that doesn't apply to 12 previous albums and an ocean of compilation records. The material here is, at best, up to Yankovic's usual standard of lunacy, and at worst, a little tired. The polka-master is on top form with 'Party In The CIA', which easily boasts the album's best lyrics, and is the strongest of the parodies. At other times, the laughs feel a bit forced, particularly with the original material. 'If That Ain't Love' and 'Craigslist' feel slightly threadbare and a bit too similar to older numbers ('Confessions prt.3, eBAY) for comfort. Luckily, there is still plenty to please everyone, from rabid 'Al' fan to the casual listener, with 'Ringtone' and the inspired B.O.B parody 'Another Tattoo' as top examples. If you don't laugh out loud, you should at least crack a smile, meaning that once again, Weird ol' Al has achieved his goal.
Sadly, there is something in the apocalypse-themed title of the album that feels like an omen. In the past, Al has always been able to keep up with pop culture and music with the skill of a marathon sprinter, hitting the right targets at the right times. Unfortunately for him though, It's not the 90's anymore. The way people listen to and consume media has changed drastically since the 'Bad Hair Day' era, and top ten hits come and go much quicker than they used to. 'Whatevery you like' was a great parody - about three years ago - but the trouble is, parodies will only date as well as their targets. In a time when pop music is more disposable than ever, when albums have been reduced to digital units on a website, the end of Als career (at least as a parody artist) seems nigh. Yankovic, always a shrewd patron of pop culture, must surely realize this, and 'Alpocalypse' seems to reflect the fact.
'Alpocalypse' is an enjoyable, if at times patchy comedy release. And if this is the last we hear from the man before he hangs up his accordian for good, I'd just like to say: "Thanks for all the laughs, Mr.Yankovic"