Idlewild (LaFace/Jive)

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

Didja hear? OutKast broke up. No, wait—that was yesterday. Today they denied it. Tomorrow? Check your favorite blog (or don’t, whatever). Idlewild, the sort-of soundtrack to the sort-of duo’s musical film, won’t do much to put any rumors to rest: The first single is “Mighty 'O’,” partly because it’s one of the few tracks to feature both Dre and Big Boi—but they’ve made videos for two other (more or less solo) songs. In its 78 minutes, though, Idlewild does a lot of other stuff.

First things first: There is no “Hey Ya!” on Idlewild, no song that could be that universally liked. (Western civilization likely won’t produce such a tune again.) But the album is as crazily ambitious as any other OutKast record. Both “Idlewild Blue,” Dre’s single, and “Morris Brown,” Big Boi’s, should kill it on dance floors, and both can be accurately described as snappy and swinging—but of course, they also sound hardly alike. Each guy shines on his material: Dre’s sometimes anachronistic, jazzy songs, and Big Boi’s more contemporary hip-hop cuts. Still, they aren’t so easily separated, either. One of the strongest tracks, “Call the Law,” is a sweetly soaring soul-jazz put-down sung by Janelle Mone (the sole female in Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon crew). Ultimately, Idlewild is confounding, in a good way: a sprawling set of songs, fragmented musical ideas and outright goofiness that reveals brilliance almost everywhere you look, but also defies understanding as a coherent unit. Which is to say, another great OutKast album. — Mike Wolf