18 September, 2013@8:48 am
It’s hard to believe it’s been nine years since the last Goodie Mob album, and fourteen years since the last Goodie Mob album featuring Cee-Lo Green. In truth, while that album, World Party received a lukewarm response, Cee-Lo would go on to create a successful solo career, while Goodie Mob would release it’s overlooked follow-up, One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show, the title a thinly veiled pot shot at Green.
While Cee-Lo has always been the frontman of the group, it’s hard to have a Goodie Mob LP without him, which is why the group’s disdain for him on that last album didn’t go over so well the audience. Yet with Cee-Lo carving out his own niche as a larger-than-life, center stage showman, his return to the group on their new LP, Age Against The Machine, finds him steering the ship.
It’s clear that Goodie Mob do not want to repeat themselves, as they have strayed away from the heavy, soulful southern sounds of their first two albums on Age Against The Machine. The new album finds them toying with different sounds and styles, incorporating everything from operatic background vocals (“Pinstripes”) to dubstep stabs (“Special Education”) into their work, for better or for worse.
That being said, they do completely defy convention and do present an unpredictable record with Age Against The Machine. The album opener, “State Of The Art” pulls from Hitchcock-era horror film soundtrack, while “Ghost Of Gloria Goodchild” is almost a disco driven, rock opera, led by Cee-Lo’s big, belted out vocals.
As stated before, Cee-Lo pilots this vehicle, yet his influence can be overbearing at times. In the past, Cee-Lo’s understated, soulful vocals worked perfectly on songs like “Soul Food”, but here he takes things to the post-Gnarls Barkley, solo career level. Songs like “White Power” and “Amy” find him applying these throwback styles to more taboo, racially-tinged subject matter, stuff that might not work on a solo album from the host of NBC’s The Voice. However Green’s grandiose sound isn’t quite the right fit for the group that made “Cell Therapy” either.
Nevertheless, there are some stand out moments here (“Nexperiance”, “Kolors”, “The Both Of Me”, to name a few), and it’s great to see the band back together. Not a lyric is wasted on Age Against The Machine, as this is an album packed with a socially conscious message. However its meshing of several different styles does give the record a disjointed feel, so whether it resonates with it’s audience remains to be seen.
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