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Friday, June 16, 2006
LISTENING POST: CD REVIEWS
Gnarls Barkley "St. Elsewhere"
"But it wasn't because I didn't know enough. I just knew too much," croons Cee-Lo on "Crazy," the lead single from "St. Elsewhere." The statement speaks volumes about Gnarls Barkley's canny debut. Vocalist Cee-Lo, formerly of Goodie Mob, has penned hits for the likes of P. Diddy. DJ/Producer Dangermouse has worked with Gorillaz and with emcee MF Doom in Danger Doom.
"St. Elsewhere" is the most original, and arguably one of the best, commercial hip-hop recordings since Outkast's landmark "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" from 2003. The term "hip-hop" is used loosely here, though, for what is really a near-perfect pairing of electronica-infused funk and psychedelic soul. "Crazy" could be "Hey Ya's" pharmaceutical-loving cousin. Like that Outkast anthem, it pays homage to a wealth of vintage sounds while coming off as something truly unique concocted from Cee-Lo's soulful delivery over the top of Dangermouse's production -- a subdued backdrop of strings, stand-up bass and choirs. Elsewhere, Cee-Lo preaches to a congregation of speed-freaks on "Go-Go Gadget Gospel," while "Smiley Faces" provides a glimpse of what Stax Records would be releasing if it was around today.