The Lady Killer by Cee Lo Green (Music CD)

Mar 8, 2012

I’m a big fan of Cee Lo Green as part of the group Gnarls Barkley, with their second album The Odd Couple rating as one of my Top 50 CDs of all time, so I was delighted to listen to his new solo album. The Lady Killer is so good it knocked The Odd Couple down on my list. Seriously, if you’re like me and like to listen to albums over and over again, you will need nothing but this CD in your house and car for the next month. If you prefer not to repeat listen as much as that, it’s still one I recommend for frequent shuffle.

The Lady Killer could be called a concept album, bookended by tracks about Cee Lo’s role of lady killer and continuing with themes of love’s many forms--unrequited, twisted, hopeless--to make the album into a coherent whole. Downloading just the singles off this album would be to miss out on some of the best songs, and it’s definitely not an album that drags or has any filler. The album varies from smooth trip hop to bouncy Motown to soulful ballads, using a heavy amount of strings as well as brass and synthesizer. Cee Lo has a voice of great versatility and range, and whatever he might lack in virtuosity he makes up for in character and emotion, conveying his message effectively through a mix of speaking, crooning, and wailing on the album.

The big single “Forget You,” is one of two edited versions. The original title is more, ahem, colorful, but regardless of which you choose the song is catchy and fun, with Cee Lo’s humor and charm evoking our sympathy rather than offending the listener. The music video is also top-notch and deserves a viewing, as it features its own mini-movie storyline and an apropos 50s setting, with Cee Lo and his back-up girls narrating at a diner.

Other stand-outs include “Bright Lights Bigger City,” a danceable electronic strings number with synth beats that remind me of Michael Jackson’s 80s pop hits. “Wildflower” is a softer song with a wistful dreamy tone, and the ballad “Old Fashioned” rolls soulfully along with a beautiful melody. “Love Gun” starts with a bang and never lets up its infectious beat, featuring sassy vocals by Lauren Bennett.  

I really respect Cee Lo’s broad taste in music as well, at least judging by the songs he covers: Gnarls Barkley did a live version of “Reckoner” by Radiohead (my favorite off In Rainbows), and now on this album he gives us “No One’s Gonna Love You” by Band of Horses, from their 2008 album Cease to Begin. If you like the Band of Horses version, I think you will enjoy the spin Cee Lo puts on it, making it much darker and more melancholy. The brooding intro synthesizer and the contrast of Cee Lo’s heartfelt wail with Benjamin Birdwell’s chirpy voice is the difference between night and day, and the abrupt end is a wrenching addition. It made me reconsider what the song lyrics really meant, and I appreciate covers that bring something new to a song and make you see it in a new light. If you haven’t heard the Band of Horses version, I really recommend listening to it (as well as their whole oeuvre). Their Infinite Arms is another of my top albums from 2010.


Written by Library Staff