St. Elsewhere

  • Gnarls Barkley
  • Wea
  • 2006-04-24

This debut album from Gnarls Barkley could very likely be about to explode onto the music scene in the same way The Love Below/Speakerboxx proved to be a landmark release in 2003 and the propulsion to superstardom for Outkast. Then it was the danceable vibes of Andre 3000’s half of the double album that ignited the fuse to set off an explosion of interest for the duo. This time the pair behind Gnarls Barkley will both be getting every respect for their combined effort, but perhaps the brains behind this operation is respected producer Danger Mouse.

With such diversity there is no single song to highlight as indicative of what (or who) Gnarls Barkley is.

Having created the now legendary Grey Album which mixed The Beatles with Jay Z to the expert point that EMI had to suppress its distribution, the alt-rap producer went on to provide a guiding light for the Gorillaz with Demon Days. For Gnarls Barkley project St. Elsewhere Danger Mouse has teamed up with former Goodie Mob member Cee-Lo who supplies the vocals. The result is an entertaining hip-hop album which never takes itself seriously, yet always makes the effort to give a broad range of influences so each track offers something unique. Gospel, blues, rap and funk can all be heard at some point here.

Of course, most people will probably buy St. Elsewhere for “Crazy”, a radio friendly crowd pleaser with soaring strings and sure to be unmissable throughout the summer. That is not to say it is the best track, however. The title track is a melancholy slow-burner while “Gone Daddy Gone” has funk-filled basslines and a catchy chorus that Finley Quaye has been searching for since his acclaimed debut Maverick a Strike. “Who Cares” is a slick slice of rap while “Smiley Faces” is a pure, uplifting gospel-tinged track. Like Demon Days, Danger Mouse pulls together elements that are never dull because they create diverse vibes. With such diversity there is no single song to highlight as indicative of what (or who) Gnarls Barkley is. It is a thoroughly fresh experience and destined to be an album of the year when the music award ceremonies come round.

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