Gnarls Barkley

St. Elsewhere (Warner Bros.)

Maybe it's the seizure that opens the mega-hit "Crazy" -- four solid punches of bass drum marking the track's unyielding tempo -- that hints at the precarious character of Gnarls Barkley. The frenzied timbre of that voice rising to the conceit of the chorus's question: "Does that make me crazy?" Hell, yeah; it's the oversaturated joy of a psychotic. But Barkley, the collective alter ego of DJ Danger Mouse and singer/rapper Cee-Lo, gets more bizarre as you get to know him, and St. Elsewhere's best stuff is sharpened with a dark edge, from the menacing neo-soul of "The Boogie Monster" to the agitated intensity of "Go Go Gadget Gospel." Even when the two get carried away with themselves -- an excessively bubbly beat here, a tossed-off line there -- all is forgiven by the time you reach the penultimate track, "Storm Coming," in which Sir Gnarls channels Autechre one second and Big Joe Turner the next. Crazy? Absolutely.

 
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