A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's one wincingly explicit song (apparently about necrophilia) nestled into this collection of very interesting and well-performed material. Depression, suicide, and cocaine are also mentioned. "S--t" comes up once.
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What's the story?
The first thing you'll notice on ST. ELSEWHERE is the voice –- rich and expressive, suited to 1960s- and 70s-era soul crooning. Then there are the instrumental arrangements, blending strong musical hooks with the unconventional in delicious layers of sound that reveal influences as diverse as psychedelia, hip-hop, pop, rock, and soul. All of these elements combine to make this long-anticipated collaboration between producer Danger Mouse and singer-songwriter Cee-Lo a truly exciting musical adventure. The fact that every track is expertly performed doesn't hurt; neither do the song titles such as "Go-Go Gadget Gospel" or "Feng Shui." Even the background vocals and hand claps are perfectly executed. Lyrically, most of the songs are simple yet expressive, with an underlying assumption of audience intelligence.
Is it any good?
The brilliance of this CD lies in the way the artists mold a wide variety of influences into a new sound that's familiar enough to be comfortably accessible while stretching limits and redefining genre. However, most parents will have some trouble with a few of the messages. "Monster in My Closet" is a delightful exploration of that universally scary fantasy, but depression, suicide, and cocaine are mentioned here and there; "Necromancer" appears to be about necrophilia, in pretty graphic terms. Uncomfortable as these themes may be, this is one instance where the music is good enough to make listening and engaging in difficult conversations (separating reality from fantasy, dealing with self-destructive impulses) worth the trouble.