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Idlewild (LaFace)

"Soundtrack" might not be the right word to describe OutKast's new, hourlong romp, since it's delivered as an overt "we aren't breaking up" response to rumors from the past few months. In the wake of the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below split, "cohesive" isn't the right word, either. André 3000 continues his funk/soul zag away from Big Boi's straight-rap zig, but where the former was the winner last time with "Roses" and "Hey Ya," he's the Idle half here. "Makes No Sense At All" subjects listeners to a horrid three-minute mess of self-indulgent improv, and "Idlewild Blue" is one of a few dinky, blue-eyed-soul tracks that are better cast as (John) Mayer 3000 (though André's brief P-Funk tribute, "Chronomentrophobia," is at least somewhat redemptive).

This is Big Boi's album, and not just because he puts OutKast back on the map with the marching band bombast of "Morris Brown." The MC's teeth are newly sharp, perhaps truly affected by the breakup rumors, and he lashes out plenty. Big Boi's at his toughest on "In Your Dreams" ("I'm in between sunset and sunrise/Just a strong type of nigga for the home invasion surprise") yet infuses the slow jam of "Peaches" with a straight-faced take on post-divorce regret. Strong guests (Macy Gray, Janelle Monae) and weak ones (Snoop Dogg, redefining the phrase "phoning it in") round out the rest of the uneven Idlewild, a disc that tries to be an album but ultimately suffers by having as much filler as a soundtrack. Nice technicality; OutKast (or at least André) can grin this one off and say, "Naw, wait for our actual next album."

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