Review Summary: St. Elsewhere will take you somewhere elsewhere, to a land that is crazy. Before you leave, you must compliment the feng shui.
Cee-Lo Green has proven himself again and again to be one of hip hop and soul's most intriguing characters. A total odd-ball at his very best, he manages to make the listener think with his well-constructed lyrics and soulful, mantastic voice. His songwriting is fairly weird, making each track a centerpiece for his voice, while similarly switching up his voice so that the music remains fruitful and festive. With St. Elsewhere, Cee-Lo Green meets his match in the production and music of Danger mouse, and Gnarls Barkley succeeds to make electro-gospel soul with hip hop-like sampling.
St. Elsewhere is intentionally one of the wackiest albums I’ve ever heard, and the music works better for that. The album opens up with the trumpet-led gospel anthem “Go-Go Gadget Gospel”, and from there you might get a glimpse of what the album is like, or so you thought. From there we get the hit track “Crazy”, which while being one of the least abnormal track on the album, succeeds due to its simplicity in drum beat and violin sample, but after “Crazy”, we get something totally different from either track. Indeed, “St. Elsewhere” is much more artsy either than “Crazy” or “Go-Go Gadget Gospel”, the track is much more reflective than anything else on the album. Haunting and brooding musically, “St. Elsewhere” is the one of the more intriguing figures on the album, with jazzy drumming, depressing orchestration, and melancholic bass playing… and yet, the very next track, “Gone Daddy Gone” contains punk-esqe guitar riffing and rap-like sexual talk, with exceptionally quirky execution. What could possibly keep an album so diverse and crazy?
Well one major factor about St. Elsewhere that keeps it incredibly diverse yet incredibly well-flowing is vocalist and rapper Cee-Lo Green. Sure, his rapping days are pretty much over, but his singing voice is still, for lack of better words, frigging awesome. His range is delightful, hitting bluesy lows (“The Boogie Monster”) to a wonderful soulful edition of Rob Halford highs (“Crazy”). Cee-Lo also likes to diversify his assets so to speak too, switching from an incredibly strong clean vocal (just about every track), eerie whispers (“The Boogie Monster”), even more rapping on “Feng Shui”.
Does this album have any flaws? Ultimately, yes it does. The strongest tracks, the exotic rap track “Feng Shui” and ADD multiple personality deformity “Transformer” are some of the shortest tracks on the album. Although no song really drags itself out to the point of complete tedium, “St. Elsewhere” and “The Boogie Monster” both overstay their welcome in comparison to the other tracks on the album, and just sound overlong in comparison, lasting three some odd minutes in comparison to most of the tracks, which last between late two minutes and late one minute. Still, despite these flaws, St. Elsewhere proves itself to be a release worthy of any and all praise it’s been given. Grooving funky rhythms galore, with wacky, sometimes gimmicky production from Danger Mouse, and booming soul vocals from Cee-Lo Green combine with spectacular execution to make for an excellent release. St. Elsewhere will take you elsewhere, to a land that is crazy, but before you leave, you must compliment the feng shui.