This album is incredible. It has given me hope in
terms of creativity and innovation in the dying music
business. Everything worth a shit musically in the
last 14 years has come from England and Scotland it seems like. People from the U.K.
seem to be the only ones who can come up with
something different and
tuneful [The Cure, The Smiths, Bauhaus,
Blur, Delays, and Gorillaz
being amongst my favorites]. Like Dangermouse and
Cee-Lo Green (who is from Atlanta I believe), they make it seem so easy.
Almost every Gnarls Barkley song lyrically is a
beautiful mix of mini crises, testimonials, and
lamentful musings; with a central theme of instability, Cee-Lo portrays a hodge-podge of mentally-ill characters and
their innermost impulsive thoughts. I think St. Elsewhere
is brave for attempting to break
down stigmas attached to being socially anxious,
antisocial, obsessed, sucidical, sociopathic, or
Without this theme St. Elsewhere
would have just been a flash-in-the-pan, trendy album for hipsters that would have tanked fast (like Gwen Stefani's). Ok, it is sort of trendy now to buck reason and logic, endorsing something as crazy as giving into the voices in your head. Just ask George Bush or Pat Robertson. But still, no musical artist has released a hip, hit record and successfully convinced people its ok to be crazy. I know there is much more psychologically to go into here but I don't have time so I'll just say that regardless if Gnarls Barkley are serious about their album topic, or joking around, they've made a timely infectious record that ends too fast. "Feng Shui" is only 1:27 long!
In terms of the music, like the Avalanches Since I Left You
album; St. Elsewhere
is not quite solely original, but nonetheless rarely matched by contemporary peers
in terms of groove and the ability to stuff a song full of great samples, loops, beats, noises, etc. It features slightly retro, electronic R&B/soul/funk/hip-hop
concoctions, unhinged soul singing, trip hop beats and crashing
drums...check out "St. Elsewhere," "Smiley Faces," "The Boogie Monster," Just A Thought" and "Storm Coming."
Don't just download "Crazy;" go to track 13 ("Storm Coming") and wait until right around the one-minute mark when the galloping (World in My Eyes-like) beat kicks in. Mixing with Cee-Lo's theatrical falsetto singing its pure summer fun. Also, "Just a Thought" is a dark song about suicide, but you almost forget that because of the awesome crashing drums and the minor chord plinks injected in the middle of the song. Its right around here that you realize the hype about Dangermouse was right, the guy is brillant.