Monday, March 24, 2008

Random bonus post: Gnarls Barkley 'The Odd Couple' album review

I know J said he would posting more this week, but I couldn't help myself. I had to get in on the action, especially while this stuff was all still relevant, so this week should be an all-out Train Of Thought bonanza!

Last Tuesday, Gnarls Barkley released their second full-length album 'The Odd Couple' to the web, while the album will be in stores tomorrow. The follow-up to the duo's seminal debut album, 'St. Elsewhere,' not only proves that Gnarls Barkley are no one-hit wonders, but that they have the ability to improve on the design they first created. Their first album was like nothing I had ever heard; fresh, bold, experimental without feeling forced. Danger Mouse had been known as the king of music's equivalent to a random hook-up, working with artists such as MF DOOM, Jay-Z and Gorillaz, but lacking a clear identity as a producer. Cee-Lo had reinvented himself from his days with Atlanta outfit Goodie Mob and even as a solo artist. 
Instead of picking up where 'St. Elsewhere' left off, Gnarls produced a stronger, more uniform, more compact album. Where 'St. Elsewhere had a hit-or-miss quality from song to song, 'The Odd Couple stays strong throughout, employing a 'less-with-more' strategy expertly. "Who's Gonna Save My Soul" is as stripped down as necessary, with just a soft drum line, a mandolin and Cee-Lo's smoky retro soul vocals. "Going On" (possibly the first single) also adopts more of an homage to the 60's throwback sound, with a melody simple enough to work but also unique enough to instantly quantify it as Gnarls Barkley's signature sound. "Open Book" and "Would-Be Killer" are more of a departure from the rest of the album without being wildly different. Keeping with the retro sound, "Surprise" bears a strong resemblance to the recent work of British producer Mark Ronson, most notably his tracks on Amy Winehouse's 'Back To Black.' 

The gem of the album, however, is the last track, 'A Little Better,' in which the bassline, vocals, hook and harmonies combine to bring out the best in both Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse.
Though I'm unofficially the resident sports guy around here, I'm gonna try and strengthen my music writing through time. It will improve in the future but this will have to do for now because Futurama is about to come on and I'm going to watch it. 

DOWNLOAD THESE: A Little Better, Who's Gonna Save My Soul, Going On 

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