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Gnarls Barkley's New Album: Funky Soul, Psych Rock and a Dark Ballad

January 23, 2008 12:29 PM ET

The new Gnarls Barkley disc won't be released until April, but we got the chance to hear a few new cuts early. The verdict: Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse have produced another album of super-catchy tunes that veer between retro-soul shakedowns, tricked-out psychedelic rock and trunk-rattling hip-hop. While nothing sounds as indelible as "Crazy," the first two tracks that the pair are considering for a lead single are pretty ace: one is a funked-up organ groove complemented by French horns, a chorus of "la la la"s and Cee-Lo crooning in his throaty rasp, "Here it comes/Say it loud!" The other track, which we're told is the duo's favorite, is drastically different: a sinister ballad featuring intricately strummed acoustic guitar chords. Cee-Lo's mood turns dark as he repeats over and over, "Who's gonna save my soul?/I know I'm out of control." It's a stylish, spooky take on Robert Johnson's delta blues — and even that suits them just fine."

Related Stories:
Cee-Lo on the Future of Hip-Hop and the Music Business
New Gnarls Barkley Vid Marries Kafka, the Screech Sex Tape
Gnarls Barkley: Hit-Making Hornballs?

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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