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Friday, May 24, 2024

Rushed to release several weeks early due to bootlegging, Gnarls Barkley's "The Odd Couple" is anything but rushed.

Any tinge of positivity or celebration on "St. Elsewhere" has disappeared on the duo's sophomore set. Instead, it's been replaced by introspective melodrama and paranoia carefully paired with some of the most soulful and eclectic musical backing in pop's recent memory.

Those looking for a "Crazy" rehash are in for a disappointment. Instead, vocalist Cee-Lo delves deeper into the uneasiness and angst he hinted at in Gnarls Barkley's debut, while madman producer Danger Mouse settles for slightly left-of-center soul, neglecting some of the group's previous sonic shenanigans.

This mood is most evident on "Who's Gonna Save My Soul?" - a simple and straightforward soul ballad with Cee-Lo crooning in fear of death.

Although this gloomy mood pervades through "No Time Soon," "She Knows" and "A Little Better," there is a slight sense of hope on the yearning love tune "Blind Mary," and the ode to apathy, "Whatever."

The best, though, is the chaotic single "Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)."

Over blaring organs and frantic drums, Cee-Lo sing-raps his way through what sounds like the bastard child of Outkast's "Bombs Over Baghdad," a nod to his Dungeon Family roots. Equally fantastic is the moody "Going On," a gospel song punkified by double-time snares.

"The Odd Couple" is not a "St. Elsewhere" repeat. Those looking for danceable pop tunes will probably be disappointed.

Instead, Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse have concocted a timeless record that takes soul music to a whole new universe.

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