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The Odd Couple
|Price:||CDN$ 15.43 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details|
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|10. She Knows|
|11. Blind Mary|
|13. A Little Better|
After much anticipation and speculation, Gnarls Barkley has provided information about their album The Odd Couple which explores the forbidden underworld of popular music and human psychology, starting at the intersection of pulsating hooks and pure emotion. This album takes the playful creativity that distinguished the duo's debut , St. Elsewhere and expands the energy, the soul and the psychological complexity. It establishes Gnarls as a pivotal act of the 21st Century. Commencing with the hypnotic `Charity Case', The Odd Couple showcases thirteen songs that advance Gnarls Barkley's vital, unpredictable mission.
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It is filled with the same kooky, psychedelic funk/pop, with lyrics touching on paranoia, mental anguish, and other dark aspects of human nature. While it may not contain another "Crazy", all 13 tracks are brilliant, from opening, sunny "Charity case" (with brief bursts of lovely harmonies), to the morose piano tinkled lament "Who's gonna save my soul".
"Going on" starts off deceptively almost country-ish, before morphing into an uptempo clap-fest with eerie harmonies against an organ back drop. Lead-off single "Run" is a sunny retro sounding song (a bit like Outkast's "Hey ya") featuring Cee-Lo wailing "Run children, run for your life" with chilling urgency.
Returning to sombre is the atmospheric "Would be killer". Starting with bird sounds is "Open book" before disjointed drums and swirling strings sweep in. Next is the psychedelic Beatles-esque "Whatever", the surf rock/dub feel of "Surprise", the atmospheric "No time soon" with skittery beats, the lo-fi sounding "She knows", and the Motown sounding "blind Mary".
The chilled trip hop "Neighbour" deals with an envious neighbour, while closing cut "A little better" is a brooding Blues-ey song dealing with mental anguish, but with a hopeful outlook (I love the echoing ending).
Each of the 13 tracks averages at about 3 minutes, and so cut right to the chase. For those who loved "St. Elsewhere" (and not just the "Crazy" single), you will love this. A fitting follow up.
Which in turn made my day..."
If you've seen the video for "Run (I'm A Natural Disaster)," the first single from Atlanta based Gnarls Barkley's second LP, The Odd Couple, you'll get a sense of the juxapositions that run through the rest of the densely layered, emotionally complex album: 60's and 70's pop and soul bumping up against modern hip-hip and electronica; breezy, upbeat sounding music over dark, even menacing sounding lyrics and vocals. If the result is occasionally disorienting, it's also almost unfailingly intoxicating and just plain fun to hear. Even though the strongest material is weighted towards the first half, The Odd Couple is head and shoulders a better album than St. Elsewhere, and that album wasn't too shabby. Here's hoping that Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse, the two talented musicians behind Gnarls Barkley, are just beginning to build a body of work for their band. Standout cuts: "Charity Case," "Going On," "Run [I'm A Natural Disaster]" and "Surprise."
But, slowly and eventually it came to me, much like a celestial revelation. The more I listened, the more I got it. This album is absolutely incredible. Take songs like "Charity Case" (love the backing vocals by Sierra Simone) and "Who's Gonna Save My Soul", (rumoured to be the second single; Cee-Lo definitely has one of the most soulful voices around at the moment and just check out the opening lyrics: "I got some bad news this mornin'/ Which in turn made my day/ When this someone spoke, I listened/ All of a sudden had less and less to say"). Once I REALLY started to listen, both made me think, ah, yes, this is just like old times! This is what Gnarls Barkley are all about!
Then there's the incredibly danceable "Going On", the manic lead single, "Run (I'm A Natural Disaster)" and to be honest, so it goes right up to the final track, "A Little Better". I do have favourites though: All of the aforementioned, "Whatever", the western-styled "Surprise", "Blind Mary" (another strong contender for a single, methinks) and "Neighbors". That's more or less every song on the CD.
So the answer is yes. In my opinion, and without any doubt, this IS a much better product than "St Elsewhere". What I'm not so sure about is whether it will have the same mass appeal. This one requires a bit more thought and most people just don't have the patience these days.
I'm just saying.
And that's the other thing -- these guys don't really sound like anybody else. If you pinned me down, I'd say it's like Beck, The Gorillaz, and DJ Shadow got together in their prime to make an album. But instead of needing three bands to catalyze that sound, Gnarls Barkley only needs two people. These are some extremely talented guys.
Demanding fans who learned to love the unbelievable work in songs such as the now-classic "Crazy" will not be disappointed: the appropriately titled "The Odd Couple" has a slight emphasis on the power of Cee Lo's vocal floating in a space full of 60's nostalgia with the unmistakable touch of Danger Mouse's work crafting the perfect balance with a sound that has earned them a permanent spot among the most creative acts around these days.
This album is my first choice to the list of Best Music of 2008.