ARTIST: Gnarls Barkley
ALBUM: St. Elsewhere
COMMENTS: It’s been almost a full year since I’ve heard a song that qualifies as “My Jam”. In order for a song to be “My Jam”, it has got to excite me instantly upon hearing it; it has to whip my body into a frenzy that can only be cured by dancing it out, regardless of how terrible of a dancer I am. Previous “Jams” have included “Be” off of Common’s recent release of the same name, and “Ghettomusick” by Outkast. Thanks to Gnarls Barkley, I can officially say that I once again have “My Jam” for the summer.
The song that has got my toes tapping is “Go Go Gadget Gospel”; the opening track off of “St. Elsewhere”. It is a quick two minute blast of funky horns, hand claps, marching band drums, and honey dipped soul vocals. It’s the kind of song that makes the listener sit up and pay attention, commands them to move, and dares them not to like every second of it. It sounds like the opening theme to a 70’s cartoon show about funky soul ninjas (that sentence makes a lot more sense in my head than on paper).
The madmen behind this wild frenzy of funk and soul are producer Danger Mouse; best known for his work on “The Grey Album” and his collaboration with MF Doom on “The Mouse and The Mask”, and Cee-Lo Green of Goodie Mod fame. Once you realize who is behind this wild mess, it makes a little more sense; Danger Mouse has already proven himself more than able to make pop music (his work on the Gorillaz most recent album) and Cee-Lo is trying his best to be the bastard child of George Clinton and Isaac Hayes.
Put these two together and something good was bound to happen.
And for the most part, “St. Elsewhere” is something good. Gnarls Barkley is a soulful album that throws back to the early 70’s of R & B, Soul, and Funk, while still managing to sound modern and new. I have to give most of the credit to Danger Mouse; he really runs the show. Cee-Lo’s high pitched singing can range anywhere from arousing to creepy, and he is clearly really good at what he does, but its Danger’s beats that steal the show and keep this from being a throwback album. It’s only about 40 minutes long, but it packs a punch in that 40 minutes. “St. Elsewhere” is full of songs that make you want to shake, wave, shimmy, and boogie. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s one of the most fun albums I’ve heard in a while.
Not to mention, one of these songs is a Violent Femmes cover. And I know I might get angry emails for this, but Gnarls Barkley does it better than the Femmes ever did. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put my jam on and dance my face off.
RATING: 7 out of 10
WORTH THE MONEY: Fans of soul, hip hop, or having fun should give this a listen. “Go Go Gadget Gospel” and “Smiley Faces” are worth the price of admission for me
KEY TRACKS: “Go Go Gadget Gospel” “Gone Daddy Gone” “Smiley Faces” “Transformer”