Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple (2008)

Gnarls Barkley is an interesting kind of anomaly, methinks. Their hit single, "Crazy" made them the topic of household chatter overnight, and yet, they didn't become one-hit wonders like everything else does nowadays. In fact, their debut album, between singer Cee-Lo and multi-everything mofo Danger Mouse, was actually pretty solid. I would use the word inventive, but I think I really mean they had more ingenuity than the creation of something truly inventive, simply because they're a kind of wild hybrid of older and newer musical styles; that and Cee-Lo has quite a distinct voice.

So what do these guys do for a second album? They switch it up, naturally. For one, since I am an album purist -- despite this fractured age we live in -- I listen to every album as both an album and as a collection of songs with individual merits. Therefore, let me speak of flow. Great albums have it; lesser ones as well. The Odd Couple does not have it; in fact, the upstart start-stoppage is pretty jarring and only highlights that this is a collection of songs, not a cohesion of musical ideas, weird or traditional. That's my biggest complaint.

I really love "Going On," (especially how it simply slows down to a descenting chant) "Blind Mary" and "Run (I'm A Natural Disaster)." In fact, the cheery upbeat tempo and hearing -- "Run children; run for your life; run away" -- is supremely amusing. I'm the Mad Hatter for good reason, you know? Personally, I prefer to eat children before they run away. In this sense, I'm the Big Bad Wolf. I'll huff and I'll puff and "A Little Better", "Who's Gonna Save My Soul," "A Charity Case" and "Surprise" are good tunes as well. Despite no "Crazy" equivalent, expect to hear a mixture of organ, vintage crackling and soul train camaraderie going on here with Master Cee-Lo at the helm. Like the last album, I just don't have a taste for it all. B-

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