Under Review: Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple

Side projects and collaborations rarely last. Often, the abundance of high-profile egos will drive the group apart shortly after their inception. Other times, the key members will get so busy with their primary groups that those efforts get prioritized. With all of the other work that they have been doing in the two years since the wildly popular St. Elsewhere, Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse made enough time to return as Gnarls Barkley for the release of The Odd Couple. While lead single “Run” is without a doubt the “Crazy” of the new album, the retro-soul vibe that carries through each of the thirteen songs makes each one instantly enjoyable. Beginning with “Charity Case”, complete with a hook reminiscent of “Walk The Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was), the record has a distinctively less polished production than St. Elsewhere, which is not necessarily a bad thing. “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul”, a psychedelic gospel ballad, is one of a few slower songs on the album, starkly contrasting the breakneck pace of the more upbeat numbers. As their photoshoots and music videos have shown, the boys have a very strong sense of humor, most evident in “Whatever”, a “poor poor pitiful me” lament to having no friends. Gnarls Barkley seems to be Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse’s equivalent to XTC‘s The Dukes Of The Stratosphear in that they have much more freedom to have fun and experiment outside the boundaries of their main bodies of work. A second Gnarls Barkley album altogether was a wonderful surprise, and the fact that it is a darn good record will hopefully inspire other collaborators to record again. I sure hope that Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins are reading this…

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~ by E. on March 28, 2008.

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