The Odd Couple Gnarls Barkley Atlantic
GNARLS Barkley has avoided the fashion for all things 1980s that seems to be preoccupying most popsters right now. Rather, producer Bill ‘‘ Danger Mouse’’ Burton and singer Thomas ‘‘ Ce- Lo Green’’ Callaway have been influenced by the soul, funk and psychedelia of the late ’ 60s and early ’ 70s. And not the namby- pamby hiphop or R & B that so often passes for soul these days. Here it’s surprisingly gritty, even tortured at times, while the band continues with its trademark cross- genre experiments. Callaway has a classic soul voice, giving real emotion to heart- on- sleeve lyrics that adds a critical layer to the sound. There are some cracker tracks, with the hyper- kinetic Run ( I’m a Natural Disaster) and the belting, sunnysounding, darkly lyrical Surprise topping the list. It’s extremely tough to follow up a ( fun but patchy) first disc, St Elsewhere, that contained the 2006 song of the year, Crazy . The downside was that the track overwhelmed much else around it. This time, the always interesting duo have created a far more cohesive and satisfying album. Sharon Jones aside, soul hasn’t sounded so apt for some time.