Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gnarls Barkley

As I mentioned earlier, I picked up the two Gnarls Barkley albums about a month ago. Here's the overdue review.

Gnarls Barkley is the collaboration between Cee-Lo Green, and Danger Mouse. They play mostly a Neo-Soul type style. It's somewhat nostalgic, bringing up shades of late 70s soul music, but with a distinct modern twist. Very similar to Lauren Hill and Macy Gray, only with male vocals. They burst onto the scene in 2006, with their debut album, St. Elsewhere.

Released on May 9th, 2006, St. Elsewhere was praised by critics for its innovative production techniques. Very similar to Danger Mouse's previous work on the Gorillaz album, Demon Days. St. Elsewhere has a rating of 81 on Metacritic. Popmatters named it the best release of 2006, and it took home the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. The first single, Crazy, won the Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

The thing that struck me about the album is that there aren't any truly bad tracks. I think Transformer is a bit garish, but it's not unlistenable. The album hits the high points on the way in, with Crazy and Smiley Face, and out, with Storm Coming and the Last Time. The production value is great. Another great thing about this album is that it's very concise. It doesn't waste sound or time. None of the songs break 4 minutes in length, and as such, the album doesn't wear out it's welcome. Some of the songs could be better if they were longer, but I'd rather have a song too short than too long. St. Elsewhere is definitely worth buying.

Gnarls Barkley returned in March of 08 with their sophomore effort, The Odd Couple. The Odd Couple doesn't have the consistent energy of St. Elsewhere. It starts out very strong with Who's Gonna Save My Soul, Going On, and Run, at the 2, 3, and 4 slots respectively. However, it lacks any other marquee tracks. Would Be Killer is just painful to listen to. This step back is marked by the album receiving a 76 on Metacritic. The album is by no means bad, but it fails to live up to the expectations established by the masterpiece it followed. The production seems a little sloppier, and that may be due to the album's rushed release, due to it being leaked onto the internet. It still has the punctual feel that has come to epitomize the group, though.

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