Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere


On another blog I write, I recently named Danger Mouse as my favourite producer of the decade.  Let's recap for the sake of the discussion: he started with the mashing of The Beatles' White Album and Jay Z's Black Album.  Whatever there is left to say about this, there is absolutely no denying its scope and genius. 

Then there's his production for The Gorillaz' Demon Days, undoubtedly a modern classic, The Good The Bad and The Queen's debut and for The Black Keys Attack and Release.  He rescued Beck's flagging career with his production of the under-rated but brilliant Modern Guilt.  He also added his weight to a staggering array of other projects.  His touch was not just golden, it almost guaranteed platinum success.  But it does make me wonder when he's had time to sleep in the last half dozen years or so?

St. Elsewhere came across as a breath of fresh air in pretty tired and hackneyed scene.  Like Katalyst, Gnarls Barkley paved their own way, relying on both fresh sounds and updates of old school ideals to bring something altogether new and uniquely their own but somehow also comforting and familiar.  Cee Lo continually hits the mark and astounds with his versatility.  From the gospel-on-steroids of the first track, appropriately called Go-Go Gadget Gospel (don't you just love a good piece of alliteration), the soaring chorus of Crazy, the loyal interpretation of Gone Daddy Gone, the pumping rhythm of Smiley Faces, the authentic modern soul of Online and so on, Danger Mouse pulls out all stops and Cee Lo meets it all head on.

I don't doubt Danger Mouse is going to continue to push himself and those he works with to achieve bigger, better and grander musical masterpieces, but as a standalone work, St. Elsewhere is a shimmering success and a constant delight.  Now, why don't we have The Odd Couple?



Okay, YourZ has said it all here - hail, hail Danger Mouse.

And I love this album with its high-class bop and classy lyrics.  But it's one of the slow songs that makes it really stand out for me.  I understand why YourZ hasn't name-checked Just A Thought - we've discussed together many times the fact he doesn't really understand depression (YourZ sez: I think I do have an understanding of it - had too many friends suffer it over the years not to have some small understanding) he's never experienced it (lucky bastard).  This song expresses depression perfectly - and the final lines are just exactly how I've felt when I've had my deepest depression and yet have tried to shake it off when around my nearest and dearest.

And so I've tried/ Everything but suicide/ But yes - it's crossed my mind/ But I'm fine

Getting out of that deep "Great Depression" isn't easy, and happens in different ways for different people.  Me, I favour counselling, diet, exercise, avoiding alcohol and drugs.  Others take different routes, and I say - whatever works.

I didn't mean to be all down about Gnarls - this CD has so many great songs on it I'm also wondering why we don't have The Odd Couple.


For more information: http://www.gnarlsbarkley.com/

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