CD Review: Recess Monkey, “The Final Funktier”

The Final Funktier sounds like it should be the title of a Star Trek sequel starring Bootsy Collins, but it’s really the name of the latest opus from Recess Monkey, the Seattle-based kindie kingpins who have been breaking new ground for family music since releasing their 2005 debut. Each of the Monkey’s previous five releases were stuffed with thematic and stylistic adventures, from Aminal House to Tabby Road to last year’s Field Trip, but the band has outdone itself with The Final Funktier, which collects an impressive cast of special guests (including Tor Hyams, Chris Wiser of the Sugar Free Allstars, and members of the Gustafer Yellowgold family) for a space dance party. With lots of slap bass. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? It is.

Personally, I’ve always found space pretty terrifying, but maybe that’s because I came of age during an era in which space songs were being recorded by freaky, synth-toting dudes like Peter Schilling — or maybe it was because Starship came from space, and they were awful. Either way, Recess Monkey makes leaving Earth sound like a lot of fun, from wearing “Moon Boots” and a “Jet Pack” to meeting up with a “Ukulalien,” sailing in the “Galax Sea,” and doing the “Constellation Conga.” (The band’s shifty manager, Mayor Monkey, even makes an appearance on “Space Elevator Music.”) I’ve always been a firm believer in outlawing concept albums, but The Final Funktier is so good it almost makes up for Tarkus and Tales from Topographic Oceans. (Not this one, though. Shudder.)

If you want to be picky, Funktier‘s actual funk quotient is perhaps overstated in its title — it isn’t like Recess Monkey has turned into Parliament all of a sudden — but this 15-track collection delivers some of the band’s sharpest, most entertaining songs, full of hooks, humor, and that signature Recess Monkey charm. My personal favorite is the brassy “Constellation Conga” — Recess Monkey, please send me an eight-minute dance mix of this track immediately — but there really isn’t a bad tune in the bunch. It’ll make a perfect soundtrack for the next time you head out for new adventures (or, y’know, grocery shopping) in the family car. Watch the band’s video for “Moon Boots,” and then go pre-order your copy today.

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