Gnarls Barkley â€“ St. Elsewhere / 2006 Downtown / 14 Tracks / http://www.gnarlsbarkley.com / http://www.downtownrecordings.com / Reviewed 16 July 2006
The United Kingdom picks up on bands well before the United States. Case in point is Gnarls Barkley, the collaboration between Danger Mouse and Cee-lo that was on the top of the charts in the UK for over two months. â€œCrazyâ€ was the first single and â€œSmiley Facesâ€ was just released as the second single, but each of the tracks on â€œSt. Elsewhereâ€ are done at the same high quality that the first two singles were cut at. In fact, the band may actually wow more with their non-single tracks than what has been given out to the mass public for consumption.
For example, the eclectic, electronic Latin flair of the opening track to â€œSt. Elsewhereâ€, â€œGo-Go Gadget Gospelâ€ will get individuals off of their seats and jittering around the dance floor. In what seems like a track destined for Dance Dance Revolution, â€œGo-Go Gadget Gospelâ€ spins to a close and allows the dynamic duo to change things up and come in strongly with their â€œCrazyâ€. The one thing that is the most impressive strength of Gnarls Barkley is that each of the tracks on â€œSt. Elsewhereâ€ have such a different sound to what has passed and what has yet to pass that they could all conceivably be on their own albums. Sure there are a few things in common that makes â€œSt. Elsewhereâ€ into a cohesive and coherent album, but the amount of differentiation that Gnarls Barkley uses here is amazing. The band manages to completely change the Violent Femmes classic â€œGone Daddy Goneâ€ into a track that is purely Gnarls Barkley, while still keeping the quirkiness and the soul of the original.
The band even goes back into the vault to pull out their Arthur Brown and Alice Cooper albums before writing â€œThe Boogie Monsterâ€. The subject material would not normally be serious, but Cee-loâ€™s vocals and Danger Mouseâ€™s arrangements on this track are deadpan enough to make the track work without anything in the way of a kitsch factor. â€œFeng Shuiâ€ is another in the way of sea changes for Gnarls Barkley; the track is not necessarily coming out of an early nineties vibe, but there is a drum and bass feel to the track that fits well in the genre. Gnarls Barkley come out with an album of music that does not follow logically from track to track, and it is this completely new, discovery-oriented type of album that allows individuals to fully understand the band in a period where most acts try to keep an air of secrecy around them.
Top Tracks: Gone Daddy Gone, Go-Go Gadget Gospel