Gnarls Barkley back on the scene with ‘addicting’ new album
April 3, 2008
When “Crazy” hit airwaves during the summer of 2006, audiences were entranced by its smooth vibes and self-destructive lyrics just as they were by Gnarls Barkley, the eccentric duo who dressed as gladiators and Star Wars characters for live performances. With such a mega hit behind them, can they do it again on their second effort, “The Odd Couple?” Chances are slim that they will achieve another high notewiththe general public like that classic single. Even still, “The Odd Couple” proves Gnarls Barkley are not merely one-hit-wonders. The album is dark, similar to their debut “St. Elsewhere,” but there’s a fleeting tone mocking any sense of security upon listening.
Things start off with the cool “Charity Case,” with front man Cee-Lo Green confessing, “Are you needing me like I need you / Even my shadow leaves me all alone at night / Guess I need to start to take my own advice,” which takes a stab at hypocrisy in general throughout society.
“Would Be Killer,” one of the album’s highlights, has Green slithering words and provocative thoughts into our heads: “I’ve got a secret / Something I thought maybe I could do / But I can’t now, can I / Lucky, lucky you…” It reveals the black in us and our animosity toward each other.
Too much angst can be bad. Good thing Gnarls Barkley’s other half, multi-instrumentalist/beat master Danger Mouse, does wonders here, making sad songs you can tap your feet to. The beats are dense and rich, following Cee-Lo’s tender voice masterfully. The light, Spanish guitars beautifully underscore the vocals with finesse on “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul.” Quirky accordion chords run along a honky-tonk drum beat on “Blind Mary,” and with “Open Book,” Danger Mouse crafts 60s pop with synths and a chorus of la la las.
That’s essentially what makes Gnarls Barkley so damn addicting. They know what sounds good and what needs to be said. They understand the importance of listening. The formulas falter here and there, as “Whatever” feels like they spent too much time messing around, and “A Little Better” never really lifts off, but that’s okay. Listening to “Run,” “The Odd Couples” best track, gets your blood flowing, your mind racing and your body moving. “Hurry little children run this way / I have got a beast at bay!”
Cee-Lo cries out over Danger Mouse’s static beats like a fallen saint with a sly grin. I’ll take a moment like that over “Crazy” any day.
Matthew Loosbrock is a student at UW-River Falls.