Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing

The Odd Couple - Gnarls Barkley

There are basically two types of One Hit Wonders. There are the ones that put out extremely catchy songs, but you know you that do not have a second hit in them (think Lou Bega). Then there are the types whose first singles are so big, radio just doesn’t let them achieve a second hit because they are too busy playing the first one to bother given another of their songs a chance (think Semisonic). And that second route is what happened to Gnarls Barkley when, to this day, radio just keeps on spinning Crazy despite Smiley Faces and Gone Daddy Gone being great songs in their own rights.

One reason why the first group fails is they keep on trying to recreate their one and only hit. But don’t expect to hear anything like Crazy on Gnarls Barkley’s follow up album, The Odd Couple because the duo has already moved on. And they didn’t need to because with Danger Mouse’s seemingly never-ending well of beats, the group doesn’t need to try something they have already done. If there is anything similar to their debut on the new disk is Gnarls Barkley still manages to sound like something you have heard before and nothing you have ever heard before at the same time.

When you push the boundaries as far as Gnarls Barkley does, there is bound to be a misstep or two, for The Odd Couple, that comes in the form of Open Book where it sounds like Danger Mouse created a beat and thought to himself that it would be cool if Cee-Lo would unleash a vocal tirade over a backwards version of it. And sadly there aren’t any subliminal messages in there (or least none that I could distinguish).

Despite nothing as intrinsic as Crazy on the album (not that anyone should expect that) there are plenty of tracks worthy of multiple spins. First on the list is Who’s Gonna Save a Soul, a dark psychedelic trip that cuts so deep it will stay with you long after the album is done playing. On the other end of the spectrum, Run (I’m a Natural Disaster) is a frantic call to arms to anyone who wants to write the group off as too weird complete with cheerleader type shouts with Cee-Lo singing like he is running along side and a children storytelling breakdown in the middle just for fun.

Elsewhere there is Going On that incorporates Hendrix type guitars, gospel organs, and Motown snares that will have you clapping along. Blinds Mary is a bouncy pop song that will male you want to grab the nearest hand and skip along in a park. The album ends with A Little Better and an infectious bass line that is almost as good as Crazy’s but that is where the too seminaries end for the two songs. But the true power of The Odd Couple is that no matter how many times you listen to it, you will hear something you didn’t hear before.

Song to Download - Going On

The Odd Couple gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Gnarls Barkley on iTunes

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