Gnarls Barkley

{grate 4} Although Gnarls Barkley’s experimental blend of rock, rap
and neo-soul in St. Elsewhere was all the rage in 2006, Cee-Lo and Danger
Mouse’s collaborative success certainly didn’t end there. The Odd Couple­ — a
fitting title for the producer and multi-instrumentalist duo whose theatrical
excellence has enchanted fans with costumes from the “Wizard of Oz” and “Star
Wars” — is insistently up to par with their imaginatively illustrious freshman
album as yet another delightfully rendered schizophrenic fairytale.

Aiming to outdo St. Elsewhere’s Grammy-winning “Crazy,” the
break-beat syncopation and polyrhythm of “Run (I’m a Natural Disaster)” incite
the b-boy/b-girl inside us, yearning to bust out toprocks and headspins on
broken-down cardboard boxes. On second thought, listening to Cee-Lo frantically
rant and rave “I have got a beast at bay … Run children/Run for your life” also
makes us want to punch someone in the face for no reason whatsoever. But
whether you’re rocking it old school or embarking on an arbitrarily violent
rampage, you’ll love “Run”’s drug-like adrenaline rush running through your veins.

Though much slower than “Run”’s crack-induced tempo, “Who’s
Gonna Save My Soul” also bubbles with top-20 rotation potential. Meshing Danger
Mouse’s electronic loops and beats and Cee-Lo’s soulful Motown voice and
menacing lyrical intensity (“Who’s gonna save my soul now … / Oooo I know I’m
out of control now hoohooo/Tired enough to lay my own soul down”), the song is
a moody, dramatic template typical of these musical masterminds.

Not to be mistaken as a lackluster attempt to stray from
traditional genres, Gnarls Barkley’s The Odd Couple ­is definitely in a
category of its own that deserves props for its collective, multi-leveled
intuitiveness and creativity.