The Lady Killer
His second album was called Cee-Lo Green Is The Soul Machine. Now that I’ve got the chance to hear his latest, something tells me that perhaps it might have been more appropriate to save that title for this release.
That isn’t to say that the current title isn’t fitting in it’s own right. In fact, The Lady Killer almost actually warrants the classification of a concept album. Right off the bat, Cee-Lo’s soothing voice quickly turns sinister on the intro as he growls, “when it comes to ladies, I have a license to kill!” This sets the tone for tracks like the feel-good yet explicitly-titled “Fuck You” — a 2010 revamp of your run-of-the-mill Motown classic.
The running theme of duality is taken to the next level with a clever mix of noir-ish murder mystery and standard bedroom boot-knock music on “Bodies,” co-produced by Salaam Remi. The hook says it all:
“they said that chivalry is dead / then why is her body in my bed? / at sunrise the morning papers read / they found a body in my bed”
As if that wasn’t enough sexually-violent imagery, Cee-Lo shares the mic with Lauren Bennett on the cover of Melody Thornton’s “Love Gun,” announcing that “if you promise to surrender, I’ll love you tender / darlin’, I’ll let you survive.”
But wait… I was comparing this album to Soul Machine, wasn’t I?
It does seem that Cee-Lo has tamed his typically schizophrenic artistic tastes to finally create a full-length release that doesn’t dabble in too many colors from the musical palette. From the incessant horn stabs to the occasional rockabilly-style guitar riff, there’s something distinctly old school and soulful about this release. Much of this can be attributed to English producer Fraser T Smith for helming the brunt of the project’s musical direction, however the standout tracks seem to mostly be served up by other producers. Jack Splash creates a rocking ocean of sound for Cee-Lo to ride out on “Fool For You.” But if I had to choose a vocal performance to set the standard for the project, “Old Fashioned” takes the cake. I’m sure Cee-Lo and company purposely placed it towards the end of the tracklist — after all, it’s poor practice to show your entire hand so early in the game. It’s no secret that Cee-Lo’s vocal chops have improved dramatically over the past decade, and this track is a perfect example of how his long hours of honing and polishing his craft has paid off.
All platitudes aside, I have to say that there is some filler — mostly packed into the album’s second quarter where most artists tend to hide their more mediocre material. However this doesn’t take away from the fact that The Lady Killer, The Soul Machine, whatever he wants to call himself today, has quite possibly created his most cohesive work (including the Gnarls Barkley releases).
And if you don’t like it, fuck you.