Music Review: Gnarls Barkley, “The Odd Couple” (***1/2)
With 2006’s St. Elsewhere, Cee-Lo Green and Danger Mouse built one sonic nation under many grooves, a place where pop music’s factional forces could go “Crazy” and find a little bit of themselves reflected in the warped and wondrous visage of Gnarls Barkley. But even as it blended hip-hop, classic R&B, psych-rock, disco and anything else within shouting distance, multiple listens revealed its flaw: St. Elsewhere had so many colors in its coat that it often became too frenetic for regular consumption.
Gnarls Barkley’s new disc, The Odd Couple, corrects course by accentuating soul and balancing the production flourishes with concrete melodies. True hip-hop is almost out to pasture on this collection, traded in for the Farfisa-style ’60s pop of “Whatever” and the chopped-up nod to Association/Rascals-style vocal groups on “No Time Soon.” Green still sings like a man on fire, but he isn’t just vamping over grooves: the bubblegum melody of “Blind Mary” is the sugar that sells a song about loving a girl who cannot tell that her suitor is ugly.
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