Cee-Lo Green returns with The Lady Killer, his first solo album since gaining acclaim as one-half of Gnarls Barkley. Looking to the past for inspiration, Green shows off his versatility as he shifts through multiple genres. Whether you remember Cee-Lo from Goodie Mob, loved Gnarls Barkley, or just hopped on the viral bandwagon of “Fuck You,” there is much to like on this eclectic release.
The songs on The Lady Killer draw from a variety of eras.”Bright Lights Bigger City” is a wonderful pop track features disco-esque strings, 1980′s synths, and a bassline reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s classic “Billie Jean.” The sultry “Bodies” is a slice of smooth 1970′s-style funk. It’s highlighted by a sinister streak that runs through the lyrics as evidenced by the chorus: “They say that chivalry is dead / Then why is her body / In my bed.” Lauren Bennett joins Cee-Lo on “Love Gun,” a song that sounds like the theme song to a James Bond movie that never was.
Soul music is also well-represented on this album. “Old Fashioned” really has an old-fashioned feel right down to the slight echo that’s present on some old recordings. It’s one of two tracks where Cee-Lo sings in a lower register and hearing him sing this way makes you wonder if he was born too late. “Fool For You,” has the feel of an Earth, Wind & Fire song and with good reason since Philip Bailey helps out a bit with the vocals. The arrangements found in “No One’s Gonna Love You” would probably do Barry White proud even if Green sounds nothing like him.
There is a retro feel to The Lady Killer but it’s not always one that’s out to recreate old sounds. The Grammy-nominated hit “Fuck You” is a good example of this. The song has the instrumentation, background harmonies, and deceptively simple concepts of great classic R & B. The bluntness of the lyrics is what gives this song a fresh feel. Also, Cee-Lo sings the song in such a way that it always feels fun rather than angry or sad.
Nearly every song on The Lady Killer will remind you of a classic artist or style. This is not a bad thing at all. With his latest persona, Cee-Lo Green has taken his clear love of old-school music and channeled it into an excellent album. The fact that he does this without making it seem like you’re listening to a tribute band is amazing. There’s no telling what’s next for Green (more Gnarls Barkley? a return to rapping?) but whatever it is will be interesting.