Gnarls Barkley: The Odd Couple

We expect a lot from our indie-ethos, crossover pop stars nowadays, even from a duo as inspired as Gnarls Barkley, a.k.a. DJ Danger Mouse and rapper Cee-Lo. We expect guilt-free-yet-radio-worthy earworms like "Crazy," not to mention genuine pathos, ground-breaking production and minimal amounts of filler, all of which GB somehow managed to deliver on its debut, St. Elsewhere. And then, on their follow-up album we not only expect all of that but artistic growth, too. Not surprisingly, The Odd Couple does not entirely succeed on the basis of these insane standards. The catchy songs ["Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)," "Going On" ] aren't especially introspective, while the introspective songs ("Whatever," "She Knows") lack St. Elsewhere's improvised (or, if you prefer, batshit insane) feel. But, viewed by rational standards, The Odd Couple is a well-crafted, consistent album that will likely sound better on the hundredth spin than the tenth. Cee-Lo's manic depressive shtick is strangely endearing, while Danger Mouse mines '60s and '70s Top 40 and soul samples effortlessly and throws wildly inventive beats into the mix as well ("Blind Mary," "Open Book"). The album maintains an avant-garde sensibility that still works as pop, and if you need more than that, I don't know what to tell you.

 
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