Rarely has angst sounded so engaging.
Rob Crossan 2008
Pacing: it's a term rarely used in the wild, confectionary smeared, retina splintering day-glo world inhabited by Cee-Lo Green and Brian 'Dangermouse' Burton and their plethora of fancy dress costumes. Their attempt at a cute little side project that would slowly gather momentum went spectacularly awry in 2006 with the release of Crazy - a hit that won't be bettered this side of the next England World Cup victory for its ability to leap barriers and give the prozac generation their own soulful tragic-opus. Hell, you couldn't even listen to the Ken Bruce show on Radio Two without hearing it.
So it's interesting to see this sophomore release show a little more of the p-word than perhaps you might expect from a duo riding such an incredible wave of popularity. Not to say that there aren't many lollipops being licked vigorously in parts. Check out the brat-pop of Whatever. Green - his Otis meets Ike at 4am round the back of a sticky casino voice firmly tucked behind his tongue and cheekbone - skips a mean, bellicose tantrum, declaring over a dandruff scratching beat: ''I don't have any friends at all, because I don't have anything in common with you all''. His day room depressive patient persona is clearly capable of playing up to the nurses.
But for every gasp of helium, there's three heavy tokes on some paranoia-inducing weed taken in a grotty backroom with some guys you didn't really want to know. Check the thoroughly malevolent vibe of Would Be Killer and the jittery wet pavement of sound on Open Book. Both are heavy on urban resentment with some skillful multi-tracked splicing of nervy break beats and fractured melodies; Scarcely grasped before running for cover. A nasty comedown from the deceptively breezy opener of Charity Case where calls are answered by breathy female acquiescence.
You just know that Green and Burton are still holding back slightly on this album. Songs outstay their welcome in places, and sometimes you long for Burton's muddy bathroom funk production to rub the grime off the windows. No matter; this is arresting and accomplished music. Rarely has angst sounded so engaging.