Cee Lo Green: The Lady Killer


RIYL: Gnarls Barkley, Outkast, Al Green

Say what you will about the record industry in 2010 – but given that this was the year Cee Lo Green scored the biggest hit of his solo career with “Fuck You,” things can’t be all bad, can they?

It made bloggers go crazy, scored Cee Lo guest spots on every talk show from Letterman to Colbert (where he rejiggered the chorus into “Fox News”), and offered a welcome stylistic change of pace from just about anything else that’s popular at the moment, but “Fuck You” is still basically a novelty song; to really take advantage of the buzz it generated, Green needed to give listeners an album full of even better songs – and songs that didn’t leave “Fuck You” sticking out like a sore thumb.

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He’s delivered on both counts with The Lady Killer, a swaggering 14-track set that finds the famously restless Green as focused as he’s ever been – both in terms of music and in terms of clear crossover ambition. Like any other neo-soul artist, Cee Lo knows how to craft a retro vibe without settling for a simple homage, but he’s less reverent about the music than most of his peers, and the result here is a loose song suite that’s as proud of its classic soul DNA as it is excited about splicing it into a flashy modern hybrid.

Green worked with a small army of producers on the album, but it doesn’t sound like the work of a committee; in fact, it almost works as a concept album, introducing Green as a Lothario with a “license to kill” in the tongue-in-cheek intro, then following him as he hits the town (“Bright Lights Bigger City”), finds out he’s been jilted (“Fuck You”), and gets his woo on (“Wildflower”) – all while brushing past soul and R&B touchstones from Motown to ’80s synth funk. It’s the kind of album that makes room for everything – production from the Smeezingtons, a Philip Bailey cameo, a cover of Band of Horses’ “No One’s Gonna Love You” – without sounding chaotic or overstuffed. It’s the work of an artist at the top of his game. Though it isn’t as brazenly eclectic as some of his earlier work, longtime fans shouldn’t mistake The Lady Killer‘s comparatively limited scope for evidence that Green is selling out or slowing down; it’s just the logical next step in his inevitable world domination. (Elektra 2010)

Cee Lo Green MySpace page

  

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