Gnarls Barkley
St. Elsewhere


3.5
great

Review

by Bulldog USER (114 Reviews)
March 18th, 2010 | 51 replies | 4,393 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Experimental and explosive, St. Elsewhere is an awesome album, but burns out quite quickly. Instructions for enjoying: Listen to it and love it in its entirety, never listen to it again.

In 2006, hip-hop was seen by many as a dead musical genre. With songs like “Vans,” “Laffy Taffy,” and “Chain Hang Low,” carving niches on the Billboard Hot 100, rap was only digging itself a deeper hole in the eyes of the public. Hell, even Nas thought it was dead. Of course, at the time, I was twelve. I thought Laffy Taffy’s beat was off the chain and Vans was my jam, dog. Looking back, I was a fool then, but hip-hop antagonists were fools even more so than me. Sure, the mainstream values of the genre had degraded since its widely commended heyday. The songs occupying the radio had helped re-enforce the widely held stereotype that rap was full of formulaic, talentless, shallow morons. But hardly did any of the rap cynics sniff a disproving example that was right under their nose. The example? Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.”

Sure, it was easy not to recognize the piping-hot single as a rap song. Its simplistic funk-with-violins instrumental isn’t akin to the formulaic pop synths and heavy bass beats heard on the radio. Nor is Cee-Lo Green’s inspired, southern gospel-like style of vocals anything similar to the monotone, basic drone of mainstream rappers as exhibited on the FM channels of the commonwealth. But, then again, I wouldn’t expect thirty-something, suburbanite mom Janet to understand anything about hip-hop after her recent distress over her son’s new annoying habits of swearing and referring to everybody in sight as “g’s” (as picked up from those monstrous rappers on the local hits radio station.)

But, maybe I wouldn’t either. One of my favorite things about rap is its ability to morph itself. To bend itself to the limit with all kinds of influences, attitudes, and styles, but retain the classification of hip-hop, and St. Elsewhere is one of those albums that does as such. Whether its stylistic base or the backgrounds of its conductors (DJ Dangermouse and Goodie Mobb’s Cee-Lo Green) make it rap, St. Elsewhere is a glimpse of the creativity and uniqueness that is to be had in hip-hop.

The entire album just has an atmosphere that confirms itself as an experimental, yet explosive effort. Only slightly rooting itself in hip-hop, St. Elsewhere finds a variety of influences from a wide array of musical genres. With Cee-Lo heading the mic, the album receives a touch of soul and alternative through the preacher-like vocals and lyrics vaguely reminiscent of indie rock, and with Dangermouse commandeering the boards, St. Elsewhere is blessed with a touch of, well, just about everything. The producer has dabbled in a handful projects, spanning across several genres, and is very versatile when it comes to sound, as exhibited in his multiple influences emplaced upon St. Elsewhere. Beats range anywhere from pop rock (wooden xylophones and feel-good guitars on “Gone Daddy Gone”) to downtempo electronic (monotone keyboard synths and slow-paced brass percussion on “Who Cares?”) to futuristic jazz (spastic, erratic horns, high-pitched keyboard synths, and hyperspeed, light cymbals on “Transformer,”) and the Dangermouse imprint is rather noticeably. He fuses small portions of hip-hop to larger, more unusual, foreign styles used in rap, but simultaneously makes it fun.

But, St. Elsewhere is, much like a one night stand, something to be picked up, put down, and never to be touched on ever again. Definitely not to be commended for its repeat value – what little of it there is, anyway – St. Elsewhere’s best aspect lies within its fun, which is manifested by its imaginativeness and spontaneity. The first (and hopefully last) listen to this album is an immersion in pop-like insensibilities. Rather, the listening experience is about throwing technicalities to the wind, and although great in such, St. Elsewhere simply isn’t as appealing when examined, and a second listen surely calls for the album to be thrown under the microscope.

Well, it’s been fun St. Elsewhere, we had our times, I enjoyed you fully for the time I had you. You’re awesome, fun, and out there, that’s what I like about you. But it’s best if we stopped seeing one another. We’re just not right for one another in the long term. After the final sentence in this review, I’ll probably never listen to you again, but be happy knowing I absolutely loved you for what it was. And ‘what it was’ was simply a one-time thing.



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Chart.
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The Odd Couple

Comments:Add a Comment 
Bulldog
March 18th 2010


3796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There are way too many reviews for this album.

Cool story, bro.


This is the first review I've really felt inspired to write in a long time.

hydeyomoney
March 18th 2010


934 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review broski, i agree mostly. I haven't listened to this in forever

americanohno
March 18th 2010


1601 Comments


GO SAM HOUSTON STATE!!! KILL THE BAPTISTS!!!

Bulldog
March 18th 2010


3796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

GO SAM HOUSTON STATE!!! KILL THE BAPTISTS!!!


Lolwut?

americanohno
March 18th 2010


1601 Comments


you not watchin' the tourny??? sam houston state's goin' toe to toe w/ the baptists and I betcha a buch that they're gonna win.

Fugue
March 18th 2010


7353 Comments


But, looking back, I was a fool then, but hip-hop antagonists were fools even more so than me.


I think this line would probably read better without the first 'but'. Other than that 'tis a nice review bro. Album was super-cool back in the day.

Bulldog
March 18th 2010


3796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nope, my sister's watching the movie "Precious." But if you're talking about the NIT, did you see the Memphis-St. John's game last
night?

EDIT - Thanks for the compliment dude, I took out the "but," as well.

ThePalestMexican
March 18th 2010


2816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I actually love this album, but you are correct that it should only be listened every once in a blue moon to truly appreciate it.

Bulldog
March 18th 2010


3796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love it too. "Gone Daddy Gone" is an awesome song. I may listen to this once or twice more, but not in the near future.

illmitch
March 18th 2010


5429 Comments


already talked about this but i disagree with the intro

people think hip hop is dying every year 2006 was no different, you could easily make the exact same paragraph about every single year in the 2000s to write an introduction for any left-of-center pseudo-hip hop release of that year

Bulldog
March 18th 2010


3796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

But I wouldn't be able to use the Nas reference. :-P

MUNGOLOID
March 18th 2010


4292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

need to hear this. cee-lo is one of the greatest rapper/singers of all time and "The Odd Couple" was pretty good in itself. oh and "Crazy" was easily one of the top 5 best songs of the 2000s.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2010


7386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't really understand your logic. You're wrong and this album is near perfect. Very listenable all the way through all the time.

Digging: Hilltop Hoods - Walking Under Stars

tiesthatbind
March 18th 2010


7374 Comments


DOES THAT MAKE ME CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZYYYYYYYY

Digging: xSPONGEXCOREx - How Tough Are Yah?

Bulldog
March 18th 2010


3796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album is near perfect.


The first time through.

But anyways, I love it too dude. It just doesn't have much replay value do to the fact that the first time is the best time.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2010


7386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh yeah. I completely don't get it. You gave it only 3.5. It's a blasphemy in my book. Don't really think it "burns quite quickly" and I'm not really high on this kind of music.

Bulldog
March 18th 2010


3796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

3.5 is still "great," dude.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2010


28504 Comments


NOPE

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2010


31153 Comments


I agree with you, can only listen to this every now and again

Digging: Banks - Goddess

americanohno
March 18th 2010


1601 Comments


FUCK YOU BAYLOR BEARS, FUCK YOU.



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