Saturday, November 13, 2010

Album Review: Cee Lo Green - The Lady Killer (3.5/5)

Profanity has never sounded as good as did in the late summer hit "Fuck You!," a hot-tempered tale of spurned romance set to a bouncy retro beat. It was a moderate hit in the US and a major #1 hit in Britain. Almost as distinctive as the song's title was its voice, that of Cee Lo Green, best known up to know as part of Gnarls Barkley, who scored a major hit in 2006 with "Crazy." Green had released solo albums before, but now has a platform to make some real impact.

From the outset, it is clear Green is embodying a persona, a James Bond-style ladies man from the late '60s and early '70s." Well hello there, my name is...not important," he says over piano during the intro, which immediately slips into a '60s-styled guitar-fueled instrumental reminiscent of the James Bond theme. The spy influence reappears on "Love Gun," a forceful tune with an ominous guitar and strings arrangement. Film noir in general is embodied by "Bodies," a dramatic song with spoken word, horns and strings that sound lifted from some cheesy '70s flick.

Apart from the first single, my other favorite song is "Bright Lights Bigger City," which swaggers in on a bass-driven disco beat that would make the Bee Gees proud. Most of the rest of the songs are pretty upbeat, and frankly, tend to blend together a bit too much, relying on a dense mix of guitar, strings, horns and beats to create the now too familiar "retro soul pop" sound. "Satisfied," for example, sounds a lot like "Fuck You," which is followed by "I Want You" and "Cry Baby," both of which shoot for upbeat but laid back soul. A couple of the slower songs late in the album are a welcome break from the heavy-handed production--"No One's Gonna Love You," which reminds me of Plan B's last album, and "Old Fashioned," which has a sweetly romantic quality.

Critics seem to really like this, and it will be interesting to see if it has staying power. If so, it could be a major awards contender next year.

Best: Fuck You, Bright Lights Bigger City, Old Fashioned, Love Gun, No One's Gonna Love You

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