Thursday, June 08, 2006

Chewing On Barkley : Gnarls Barkley / St. Elsewhere / Rating: 7.7

"For the most part, it sounds like two guys playing around and having fun, sometimes more fun than the listener."

Ohh Gnarls Barkley...

How I kind of sort of want to like you.

Genre-crossing, fresh takes on old styles that don't reek of retro fetishism, eccentric shit finding it's way into the mainstream is usually the sort of thing I applaud loudly. But instead I'm left politely clapping and looking at my watch to see if the shows over soon and if the person who put me on the guest list is around to notice me sneaking out.

After repeat listens I kept wondering "this has some good parts, some great songs, some catchy hooks, but why don't I really love it?". And it really keeps coming down to the one half of the duo... Dangermouse.

For Cee-Lo's part it's all pretty excellent. Wavering between classic soul emotion, funk stylings, and straight up bizarre ranting, it suggests that this should work as say 2006's answer to "America Eats Its Young" or something

But then there's the beats and production. Why did it seem like a good idea to back this with something so dense yet so thin sounding and ultimately pretty shambolic. I mean really, if your going to undertake some crazy ass project like this and start drawing comparison to Hey Ya and getting hyped about being a fresh look on hip-hop and soul... why have your beats sound like an El-P record or something. Nothing against EL-P as clearly that's a success in that field, but you know I don't want to ever hear him and Al Green do a record together. This record should bump... and it doesn't really. Crusty sounding white kid hip-hop production certainly has its place and has produced some excellent results. I'm just saying this marriage doesn't do it for me (even though D.M isn't white... but you know what I mean, it has that 'sound'). How did this project come together? Do you think Cee-Lo is aware of the wealth of indie producers that could have murdered on this record, or was it just scratching the surface and thinking "we'll that's an interesting take on hip-hop" without realizing there's a whole wealth of producers way more on top of their game.

I don't know. I can appreciate that Crazy is a kind of dope pop song, some of the other tracks are pretty hot, and this is one of those records that younger people will buy and hopefully get them digging deeper into soul records and indie hip-hop (and the Violent Femmes apparently...), but I give it a resounding..."meh, whatever", and I'm sure that after a summer of having to hear Crazy be this years Sean Paul "Get Busy" car jam I'll really never feel the need to put this record on again.

Cee-Lo's contribution : 9
Dangermouse's beats : 3
Averaging out at ... 6