Beware folks: this is the band that released “Crazy.” Even you might have liked it for a while before it was played at EVERY party and on EVERY radio station. Ray Lamontaigne even did a cover. Yes, it was that annoying.
At first glance, Gnarls Barkley’s “The Odd Couple” is not a bad album. Very boring, yes. A mediocre version of Amy Winehouse, perhaps. But when one accepts that these songs will be released and plugged on billboards, by radio DJs and in magazines from Bombay to Boston, Gnarls Barkley’s new album is one thing and one thing only: evil.
A mixture of Muzak and middle of the range, generic indie rock with the traditional Danger Mouse “groovy” influence, the music is strangely neutral; it doesn’t impose on the mind as much as the last album; it’s pretty bland, really.
The most stylized song, “Run (I’m a natural disaster),” refers to early ’70s psychedelic music moving towards funk. But again, it would have been just as forgettable in the ’70s as it is today. Cream did it much better. Some of the lyric streams that issue from singer Cee-Lo’s mouth are interesting aesthetically for their warped, slightly snarled quality and integration with the synthesizers. But really, the best advice is: “Run away, / Run children, / Run for your life,” this is the song that won’t cease to annoy everybody over the airwaves for the next four months notwithstanding some natural disaster.
“The Odd Couple” feels like Gnarls Barkley has rested on its laurels (or profits). Indeed, there seems to be no real point to the thing. Maybe the band just had to produce something this mediocre as catharsis, some sort of penance for annoying the world. But really, do we need to be subjected to this?
Songs like “Blind Mary” have a certain innocence that is immediately refreshing but becomes repetitive. “I Love Mary, / Blind Mary marry me” repeated again and again is just annoying after it has been sung four times. The song’s vocals are also too robotic and grating. Does the public really want to listen to this song? Probably not, but it will.
The question remains: why did Gnarls Barkley produce such a dull album? At least “St. Elsewhere” was invigorating. These songs just sap any interest out of the listener. Perhaps pseudo-funk-indie has its limits.
Indeed, “Going On” is an upbeat effort, but it really must still escape the repetitive sound of “St. Elsewhere.” It’s not even as good as anything on that album; it is only a pale shadow of the ‘other’ hit song “Smiley Faces.”
The album’s only virtue is that it is relaxing, as relaxing as watching cement dry. One could play it and fall asleep forgetting that it’s on and one’s roommates wouldn’t complain. They’d probably all fall asleep too.
“Who’s Gonna Save my Soul” is at least an affirmation that Gnarls Barkley realizes that it has damned itself to some sort of musical purgatory. But “out of control” this album certainly isn’t; it’s simply boring. Some of the pseudo-religious aesthetic shows that they are seeking redemption, but why are we subjected to the dullard offspring of their efforts?
Well, at least “Run (I’m a Natural Disaster)” is number 41 on the Czech airplay chart.