Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple

Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
Published in 2008

"And I haven't even written about the (perhaps) even better sequel yet." - Matthew Butler, The Album Project

At the risk of this blog turning into a all Ceelo all the time festival, I want to talk about this album. As you may have learned from my several essays about his music at thus point, I love Ceelo.

I really want to focus on his voice this time. It's an interesting voice to say the least. It's a sweet and soulful in a way that is different than many artists who have come out recently.

Let's put it this way. If American Idol was looking for the next big artist, they would miss Cee Lo by a mile. If their track record for success is looked at, perhaps this is the reason that they will never match Kelly Clarkson's success. His voice has character and a sound that is completely unique. I have no comparisons for his voice, or the investment he puts into the songs.

That's not precisely true, but it's a big claim that I am about to make, and I needed the momentary open page of the line break to steel myself before writing this semi-insane statement.

I don't know who to compare Cee Lo to in music. I literally have no references. He uses beats to communicate, but he is bot limited solely by production as, say, a Timbaland is. He is a poet, but is not over indulgent to that side, like a Jim Morrison would be. He's not striving to be the be all end all of the band, trying to take the spotlight like an Axle Rose.  He's really not able to be defined in this way.

So, let's get to this album, and stop trying to define his performance style.  Once again, we have a fantastically produced album from Danger Mouse, with some incredible hooks, great songs and a fantastic range.  The album is as eclectic as St. Elsewhere.  But enough about the similarities, let's talk about why I think this album is better.

One:  I think the tone is better.  These songs are much darker than the original album, allowing the whole of them to flow into each other.  The silliness that was Fung Shui and Transformer has been mostly removed from the album, leaving more time for the great music.  With the darker tone, there is more of a coherent message, and more of an enjoyable album.

Two:  The singles, while good, were not overplayed in the same way that Crazy was.  Now, as is obvious, I love Crazy, but the overplayed nature actually made me leave the song for a while.  It was spectacularly great, but variety is the spice of life, and if there is no variety between albums and the radio, life becomes very unspiced.

Three:  The production is tighter, and it seems as if they went in with a much better idea of what a Gnarls Barkley album would sound like.  It's very well constructed, and the songs sound perfectly fit together.  I also think that Danger Mouse, having gotten the experience from his other projects, really stepped his game up for this one.  The cinematic qualities are increased, and the focus is much tighter.

Four: Who's Gonna Save My Soul is the best song you've never heard (unless you watch Breaking Bad or are a big fan of Gnarls Barkley).  Seriously, I think this is one of the greatest musical triumphs of the recent past.  This is one of those songs that deserves to be covered to death, used again and again to make big strides, and still will be considered a classic.  It's well produced, the lyrics are incredible, and the whole thing is just well constructed.  It's one of the most perfect songs ever made, because it displays raw emotion and depth without sacrificing musicality.

If you listen to this album, I garuntee that you will find at least two songs that you love.  Seriously.  The expanse that is covered by the group is huge, and the diversity gives you things like Run and Getting Better on the same album.  This is the kind of album that you will listen to forever, and you will love that you have it.  It is a not optional album in every way shape and form, so make sure you pick it up.

"It's like a koala bear crapped a rainbow in my brain."

PS. Pive Ghil 5.

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