Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere

2006-08-30 09:47
There are a couple of things you need to know about Gnarls Barkley.

Firstly, Gnarls Barkley is the name of a duo, not of a person, in case you thought celeb naming had just gone beyond the er... pail (of apples)*. Secondly, DJ "Mouse" (not the singer) also appears as Danger Mouse with another very cool outfit, Gorillaz. Which would partly explain the styling of the "inkblot" music video for Gnarls Barkley's awesome hit "Crazy" and the fact that their website is all toons.

DJ Mouse does the musical arranging for Gnarls Barkley, while the other half is, deep voiced singer Co-Lee, writes the words and serves up his freakiest soul. A bit of background on Co-Lee: He also wrote the Pussycat Dolls' infuriatingly catchy and unbelievably mean smash hit "Don't Cha". But don't cha hold it against him. His earlier solo work and his history with the Goodie Mob more than make up for this pop transgression.

"Crazy" is the big hit so far, it sets the tone with these words: "I remember when, I remember / When I lost my mind / There was something so pleasant / About that place". . He's got the vocal style of Isaac Hayes, and the dark psychotic humour of early Tom Waits. So choosing the Violent Femmes' wicked "Gone Daddy Gone" to cover couldn't have been more canny. "The Boogie Monster" is a bad comedown story that ends with a line about blowjobs (not printed in the lyric sheet). He sneers at "Feng Shui". "Just a thought" features the classic line "And I've tried, everything but suicide / But it's crossed my mind". And then there's "Necromancer"'s bitter lines: "Have no fear everything's fine / My girl parties all the time." All the time until she's dead. But that's ok - he likes her more the cooler she becomes.

So it's funny, and it's dark. But there's also a warmer side to it. Tracks like "Smiley Faces" extol the value of a good hug, and the music itself is full of energy, and scrunchy, delicious sounds, courtesy Mouse. The classically structured soul melodies sweeten what's occasionally challenging listening.

If there's such a thing as indie soul, this is it. It's one of the CDs by which you'll remember 2006.

- Jean Barker

* We apologise to our readers for this terrible joke
A genre busting soul album that's truly the height of cool - and a hit on radio.

Val 2006/12/21 2:23 PM
Crazy man get lost cause you make me "crazy"!
LU 2006/12/27 5:27 PM
Crazy The best ever...
Chris 2007/02/10 9:51 AM
St.Everywhere Gnarls Barkley should have called their album st.Everywhere cause that's where they are. Hope the grammy's roll in like they should for these unbeleevable artists.
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