Reviewed by Jeff Walker

Reviewed on 4/4/08

My Alternative Music Standard – Radiohead – OK Computer

Don’t expect anything “Crazy,” and you will find a solid album full of retro sounds and dark lyrics. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but an interesting listen for the more musically adventurous types.

Release Date: 3/18/08 (digital); 3/21/08 (physical album)

Tracks/Length: 13 tracks / 39 minutes

Producer: Danger Mouse


Honest Opinion: Let’s get one thing straight – there is no massive mainstream hit here, a la “Crazy.” After one listen, I was actually pretty disappointed with the album as a whole. “Run” is an energetic and solid single, but nothing else jumps out in a similar way. The good thing is that The Odd Couple grows on you the more you listen to it. It never becomes a fantastic album, but does overcome the initial disappointment.

While all of the songs are interesting and different than most music out there, Gnarls Barkley creates mood pieces rather than songs that take you somewhere. At times, they hint at breaking out and sending you on some strange trip (“Open Book” feels like an apocalyptic odyssey down the river to see Colonel Kurtz), but too often stay within their structure. It’s frustrating, because St. Elsewhere did the same thing and you wonder if Gnarls Barkley is ultimately limited. There is always something new to each song (schoolchildren shouting, jungle sounds, varied vocal effects often creating an eerie feeling, and an almost giddy Polka sound to “Blind Mary”), but it never seems to go as far as it could.

Cee-Lo pushes himself vocally and adds many textures that give the claustrophobic and paranoid lyrics a chance to break out of the asylum. The lyrics and Cee-Lo’s soulful bellows even save a few of the songs from becoming a bit too lethargic (see “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul”, “She Knows”). Handling the production side, Danger Mouse creates a throwback vibe that recalls a funky, almost surf-like sound from the 60s or 70s (thanks to the synth, you even hear some Zombies-like elements). While it grabs you, it just doesn’t always stay with you, which is the album’s problem as a whole. It is interesting while you listen, but there is never a feeling that you have to hear it immediately after the last song. The Odd Couple reminds me of a stereotypical New York artist – creative, interesting, and has a distinct voice, but nothing you really want to be around all the time.

1st Single Representation: “Run” may be the best song on the album in terms of getting the adrenaline flowing and taking you somewhere. Expecting the rest of the album to be similar will only end in disappointment. Think of “Run” as the one fast, danceable song on the album and you can better appreciate the diversity of the rest of the songs.

If You Are Going to Download Three Songs (legally of course), This Is What I Would Download: “Run,” “Open Book,” “Blind Mary”
Rule of 4 (if you like at least four songs the whole album is worth buying): I like the aforementioned three a lot, and the rest of the songs are pretty good, even if not spectacular. There is nothing bad here, but the whole album just doesn’t wow you as much as it possibly could.

Verdict: If you like more of Gnarls Barkley’s work than “Crazy,” I would recommend that you lower your expectations, buy it and let it grow on you over time. Those who were only crazy over “Crazy” should stick to the single, “Run.”

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