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Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple

2008-05-26 08:22
Opening salvo "Charity Case" does its best to put a bent pop spin on the retro funk mash-up that once made Outkast’s makeover of vintage Motown soul so seductive. Unfortunately Dangermouse’s insistence on dropping a French femme Lolita’s "la-la-la" harmonies into the mix results in a glossy pop-hop hybrid devoid of any real soul. Later "Going On" quickly cobbles Outkast’s broken beat hop ecstasy with an emotionless blancmange of cod indie-disco keyboard swirls.

So what the hell’s happened to the schizophrenic funk delirium that fuelled "Crazy"? It’s morphed. Where 2006’s St. Elsewhere was a whimsical sonic mash-up, The Odd Couple is straightforward genre surfing. "Who’s Gonna Save My Soul" finds cosmic soul emcee Cee-Lo struggling to channel Nina Simone’s black-and-blue timbres beyond a torch song Roland Gift (remember The Fine Young Cannibals?) might sing alone in the shower. It should’ve been a haunting existential confession, but thanks to Mouse’s spaghetti cinema strings Cee-Lo ends up sounding like Beth Gibbons with serious Prozac withdrawal.
Later, sinister glitch-hop deconstruction "Would Be Killer" and syncopated jungle soul symphony "Open Book" try to trace Tricky’s arrhythmic paranoia back to the dark side of Motown’s street, but ultimately get lost in Mouse’s over-percolated cartoon electro-pop hall of mirrors.

Finally, "Surprise", "She Knows", "Whatever", and "Blind Mary" variously ride 60s girl group harmonies, Les Baxter-ish exotica, blaxploitation rhythm ‘n blues and Motown soul moods to…well, nowhere in particular. It’s only on the hyperactive electro-disco clatter of "Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)" that the duo suspend disbelief in their own odd coupling prescription and get down to lubricating a good old fashioned dance floor bump and grind frenzy.

- Miles Keylock

Two years is a lifetime in pop music. But who would’ve thought that the rap, soul and rock flamed disco funk shui that gassed up 2006’s Grammy-winning dance floor dervish "Crazy" would already be past its sell-by-date?

What to read next: Kalahari

Anna 2008-05-27 11:03 PM
Damn. Wow. Why not just cut this review short and say that any style of music older than six months needs to be done away with except for the really really cool ones that never made it to mainstream. And we also mustn't mention that this album is musically far more focused and accomplished. And remember son - don't ever diss da FYC :)

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