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“There is a part of myself that I would prefer to set free. If my heart could reach its full potential inside of a lifetime, my mind would reel at its accomplishments. But my heart can’t remember which sock goes on first.”
-Gnarls Barkley, in a letter to Gordon Gano
Is love ever “real”? When something ends, did it ever happen at all? If we’re forever sealed in our own skins, can we connect with others, or are we doomed to face our own unique struggles alone? How do we know when it’s time to run? Are these the kinds of questions that should be addressed in brisk, infectious pop songs?
GNARLS BARKLEY, an enigmatic presence in the entertainment business, formally introduced himself in 2006, to the tune of the popular song “Crazy.” He released the acclaimed LP St. Elsewhere, garnered two Grammies (and six nominations), and became a global phenomenon without ever appearing in public. He doesn’t care for the word “should.”
With fame came attention, and Gnarls doesn’t care for attention, either. Thus, to protect himself from the public gaze, he split himself in two, the yin and the yang. This opened a tunnel through the forbidden underworld of popular music and human psychology, a world explored on Gnarls Barkley’s second LP, The Odd Couple.
To represent one side, Gnarls ordains Danger Mouse, one of the most creative and fearless artists and producers currently at work. Danger Mouse is a musical polymath – his broad comprehension of pop music’s codes and patterns is eclipsed only by his irrepressible urge to circumvent them. Danger Mouse likes his privacy and keeps his own counsel. He has maintained Barkley’s confidences through a long association, which has included a successful collaboration on St. Elsewhere and many early-morning patty melts at various Waffle House franchises. After Gnarls visited his home and left a potted philodendron and a large collection of Swiss film soundtracks at his doorstep, Danger Mouse agreed to score The Odd Couple.
As the other side, Gnarls casts Cee-Lo Green, the soul machine. A versatile singer reared on the raw streets of Atlanta, Cee-Lo taught himself gospel, R&B, hip-hop, lightning-bolt charisma, and the finer points of the human condition. After settling several financial disputes for Mr. Barkley, Cee-Lo has become a trusted ally. Cee-Lo captured worldwide attention for his performances on St. Elsewhere, and offered his unmistakable voice for The Odd Couple project after Barkley reimbursed him for a dinner at the Atlanta Cheesecake Factory. (“Sometimes I wonder if that bastard even owns a wallet,” Cee-Lo said in an interview.) In the labyrinth of The Odd Couple, Cee-Lo is both diplomat and savior. He also appears as the passionate escape artist, the reluctant concierge, and the confused adolescent.
Gnarls Barkley is The Odd Couple, a gloriously complex and eternally restless mix of sound and enigma. It finds comfort in the strange and mystery in the familiar. It awakens souls, gives a voice to the most complex emotions, and defies the most imaginative expectations.