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Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple

  • Words: Tony Ware
  • Label: Downtown
  • XLR8R Rating: 8/10

An escapist fantasy and Internet phenomenon that became an identity, Gnarls Barkley is hip-hop producer Danger Mouse plus soul cipher Cee-Lo Green, and on this sophomore release the potential one-off sparks off. The predominant production is styled after ’60s pop, relatively clean of crackle but chockablock with snap. Handclaps are often a principal currency, freckled across paddleball beats–springy and rounded, often more immediate than far ranging though at times the dusty-meets-digital groove presents its percussive flurries as a Wall of Sound harkening back to Portishead. The balance swings less violently between paranoia-versus-poignancy poles than on 2006’s debut, St. Elsewhere, thus trading a runaway single for uniform intrigue. For all Cee-Lo’s preoccupation with mortality, Gnarls now sounds like his livelihood.

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