A funny and soulful visual album about the Bash Brothers.
The Lonely Island (consisting of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) puts out a 'visual poem' (read: visual album) dedicated to their baseball heroes, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire aka The Bash Brothers. Much like Beyoncé's Lemonade, The Unauthorised Bash Brothers Experience is a musical and visual journey of the Bash Brothers, from their heyday in the baseball world, excessive steroid use, fall and their rise to greatness. Again.
Here be spoilers…
What we like
This is a pleasant surprise. We know that The Lonely Island introduced new songs "Jose & Mark" and "Focused AF" as Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire during their recent tour in America but we didn't think that they actually wrote an entire album based on the Oakland Athletics's two MVPs. Taking a page from Beyoncé's marketing team, The Lonely Island dropped a cryptic post on their social media platforms, telling fans to watch out for something, a day before their visual album hit Netflix.
It's a 27-minute long visual album parodying the recent rise of the genre from artists like Beyoncé, Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar. The beats are fire, earwormy. The rhymes aren't going to win any Pulitzers but the non-sequiturs will get you ("The name is MARK, and no I’m not MORK / And yes I eat PORK, cause it’s tasty on my FORK / And no, I’m not a JORK, but I’ll jork it out the PORK / Cause Noah shoulda had the Bash Brothers on his ORK").
While satirical, there's reverence in the portrayal, especially with Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire (played by Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer). There is stunning imagery—tropes really—culled from other music videos that we've seen. They are meant to be over-the-top but I won't be surprised that they will end up in someone's mood board.
What we didn't like
There might be people outside of America, who are unfamiliar with Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire or even the world of American baseball. I mean, who are these fools? Why are they so great? Why do they keep mentioning steroid injections in their butts? The average non-American viewer might wanna get a brief rundown on the Bash Brothers on Wikipedia before watching this but other than that, the themes of surviving public scrutiny, living up to expectations, wading through an existential crisis and parental acceptance still resonate.
I'm not sure if it's because I'm listening to this in one sitting but I heard the word 'science' three times in the visual album. Is it a word that's often used in raps, much like 'grey poupon'? I'm unsure but this felt like a lyrical oversight.
What to look out for
Guest stars. So, many guest stars. You've Maya Rudolph, the Haim sisters (Este is immediately recognisable), Hannah Simone, Jenny Slate, Jim O'Heir, Stephanie Beatriz and Sterling K Brown channelling Sia.
Do stay for the end credits for another sports legend, Joe Montana, who used to play America's favourite past time *reads notes* American-styled rugby. Cool.
The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorised Bash Brothers Experience is now out on Netflix.