Six months later... what can I possibly say about St. Elsewhere that hasn't already been ejaculated from the unnecessarily verbose ink-members of numerous self-indulgent online music critics? Yes, it's the best album of the year; it rests securely in the top-ten for this decade. It has been praised by critics, certified platinum, and can easily be found on the iPods of frat-boys and sorority girls - although they probably didn't pay for it. It would be safe to say that Gnarls Barkley single-handedly reinvigorated my faith in modern mainstream music. Yeah, I kind of like it.
Just in case you have been living under a rock for the past half-year, Gnarls Barkley is the result of a collaboration between Cee-Lo Green and Danger Mouse. In the 90's, Cee-Lo was one-fourth of the Atlanta hip-hop group Goodie Mob. After leaving the group in 1999, he released two flamboyantly experimental solo albums. Danger Mouse, a DJ/producer from Baltimore, was best known for his Jay Z/Beatles mash-up masterpiece (has anyone coined the term "mash-terpiece"?) The Grey Album as well as his work with MF Doom. The resulting album is nothing less than thirty-seven minutes of pure joy.
St. Elsewhere is consistently whimsical, playfully innovative, and impressively varied. "Crazy," the duo's first and most successful single, is driven by Cee-Lo 's soaring vocal performance and incorporates a sample from an old spaghetti Western. The second single, "Smiley Faces," bounces around with a classic Motown quality that Mr. Green happily embraces with his equally enthusiastic contribution. The remainder of the album exists in various combinations and dissections of the previous descriptions. As the album's producer, Danger Mouse provides a highly stylized sound that maintains an equal level of modesty. This combination of energy, innovation, and production gives St. Elsewhere a classic quality that appears to predict its own future reputation.
So, six months later and rapidly approaching the end of 2006, St. Elsewhere remains unchallenged as my favorite album of the year. I do find it truly bizarre that the album that has made me excited about music again is also a platinum-selling, major label release. Could this be a sign of things to come, or merely a rare occurrence intended to keep skeptics like me on their toes?
9.8 / 10
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