Separately Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse are fun-filled, energetic and positive musicians. When they become Gnarls Barkley, the fun is ridden and the positive energy is quickly transformed into a Debbie-downer state.
On their sophomore album, “The Odd Couple”, the group continues where “St. Somewhere” left off, depressed and manic. The album, despite its colorful TV reference, is anything but that. Cee-Lo’s rich soulful voice is used as a depressant, while Danger Mouse induces the downward spiral of tracks.
The single, “Run (I’m a Natural Disaster)” invokes 70’s soul and implants playful clapping and a choir chant of la’s. Though it may seem like an upbeat song, which it is, the meaning is anything of partying or embracing life but advises “Either you run right now or you best get ready to die!”
Danger Mouse surrounds his partner with mechanical landscapes, spliced percussion and neo-soul in “Surprise”. Cee-Lo preaches the gospel of loneliness with use of his unique howls and distinct high pitch. Consequently, there’s no revival to his sermon as complete seclusion is something that lingers with him as the song ends with clapping and a lone guitar.
“Open Book” is an animalistic tribal creation that sums up how deep of influence karma has on the lives of those who believe in it. Expecting the repercussions of lying, contempt with the warmth of evil and confronting death, Cee-Lo embraces the possible downfalls of his actions.
The sound of a projector and a rushed sweet sounding beat introduces “A Little Better” and concludes the album. Conflicts with the self-realization that pain is intermitted with his life, Cee-Lo takes a step back and confronts his troubles with faith and content. Light tambourine, deepening bass and high-top combat Cee-Lo’s agony.
Gnarls Barkley have pieced together the worst imaginable feelings a person can undergo and have created “The Odd Couple”. The concept is tasteful, the production is extravagant and the result leaves you in a euphoric state of good. To hear the perils of Cee-Lo makes you realize that you have no reason to complain about yours.
Having thoughts of death buzzing when you sleep, satisfaction of solitude and dealing with pressure of pleasing audiences, “The Odd Couple” is a great second installment in the duo’s collection. It would be interesting to see their next release anything but grim because Gnarls Barkley is so good at being America’s poster child of depression.