Gnarls Barkley

The Odd Couple

For a fresh-faced pop artist, following up a successful first album can be a tough drill. Sophomore releases often face harsh scrutiny from fans and critics—who may have slobbered over the first album—for sounding too much like the last, or, contrastingly, for straying too far from their so-called previously established “sound.” Gnarls Barkley’s second album falls somewhere in between. The Odd Couple at times steps away from their previous work yet seems to follow the road paved by St. Elsewhere. The Odd Couple is mostly stripped of the debut’s recognizable hip-hop tinge, and Danger Mouse’s production could be described as a new-millennium version of what 1980s pop covers would have sounded like in the ’50s. In other words, some subtle, kick-ass Casio polished with a handful of hair grease. Vocally, Cee-Lo Green delves a little deeper into his sorrowful soul without shedding the styles of his past work (see Goodie Mob’s album, Still Standing). Of course, it isn’t hard to pluck out the catchier radio tracks, which can be fun, too. But be sure not to miss out on songs like the dark, bluesy “Would Be Killer,” or the bouncy buzz of “A Little Better.”