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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 16:10 GMT
Gnarls Barkley rush out new album
Gnarls Barkley
Gnarls Barley were not expected to release the album until April
Dance duo Gnarls Barkley have surprised fans by launching their new album on iTunes weeks ahead of schedule.

Called The Odd Couple, it was available for download in the US on Tuesday. It was supposed to be released on 8 April.

The CD is due to hit US shop shelves on 25 March, a day after the digital version becomes available in the UK.

The news comes shortly after rock group The Raconteurs announced they were to rush out their album next week, after recording sessions finished on 1 March.

MySpace 'event'

On their website, Gnarls Barkley said they felt "the timing was right just to go for it".

"With the shifting seasons, furtive romantic entanglements and fierce college basketball rivalries, the latter half of March can be confusing. People need to be soothed and inspired now."

A less poetic reason for the early release could be the threat of internet piracy - several songs from the record have already appeared online.

The Odd Couple is Gnarl Barkley's follow-up to St Elsewhere, the 2006 album which was a UK number one and included the hit single Crazy.

It will reach UK record stores on 31 March.

The duo will mount a short tour in support of the album, but their record company told US magazine Billboard they were also planning "something globally with MySpace that has never been done before".

The Raconteurs, led by White Stripes frontman Jack White, took the decision to release their new album Consolers of the Lonely online - as well as on vinyl and CD - earlier this week.

"The purpose: To get the album to the fans as soon as possible and as we promised," the band said in a statement.

"We wanted to get this record to fans, the press, radio, etc, all at the exact same time so that no one has an upper hand on anyone else regarding it's availability, reception or perception."

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