Attention ladies: The lovesick Cee Lo Green is no longer prowling fluorescent-lit streets in search of a lover. If his latest silky-smooth album The Lady Killer is any indication, the soulful crooner is in Love with a capital “L.” His album is filled with creamy ballads and cinematic bombast that mark a departure from his previous status as a hip-hop wildcard.
Cee Lo Green
The Lady Killer
But almost completely absent from this decadent album is Green’s infamous weirdness. The rough edges that marked his previous solo work and made him an underground mainstay (see Cee Lo Green And His Perfect Imperfections) have been smoothed over with radio-ready production. Psychedelic hip hop is traded in for pop-friendly R&B. His latest is a throwback to the days when albums had a storyline and had to be listened to sequentially. The Lady Killer almost sounds like a retro tribute to classic Motown, where love could send crooners to dizzying heights and, just as quickly, soul-crushing lows.
The Lady Killer was crafted to sound like a noir film. Green’s rich vocals and liberal use of strings are topped off with themes of betrayal, love and loss. Some of his idiosyncratic strangeness can be found at the bookends of the album in songs “The Lady Killer Theme (Intro)” and “The Lady Killer Theme (Outro).” The intro features Green speaking in low and seductive tones claiming that “When it comes to ladies, I have a license to kill.”
After the slow spoken intro, “Bright Lights Bigger City” kicks off Green’s dramatic album with a swaggering but reverent homage to Saturday nights. The track is a classic funky pop song infused with some fresh-sounding synths as Green grandly proclaims that the city “belongs to us tonight.” It’s apparent by the end of track that Green gets the girl, and he dedicates the rest of the album to singing about this intoxicating woman.
The album is peppered with soulful love songs, and “Please” is no exception. The track features periodic gunshots and Belgian singer Selah Sue doing her best Bond-girl impression. Green answers her agonizing pleas for love with slow, sexy vocals singing, “I want you dead or alive / if you promise to surrender I’ll love you tender.” Here, Green plays with themes of pleasure and pain with deliciously campy results.
If the movies have taught us anything, it’s that love is everything but perfect, and when Green experiences heartbreak, he comes out swinging. “Fuck You,” the album’s first single, gave Green another taste of mainstream success as radio stations rushed to play the more Kidz Bop-friendly “Forget You.” However, listeners should definitely check out the original, as shouting “Forget You” at the top of your lungs to the lover who just scorned you doesn’t provide the same satisfaction. Despite Green’s obvious bitterness, the song is probably the most fun on the album. With wily lyrics (“I guess he’s an Xbox / and I’m more Atari”) and background vocals warning Green “she’s a gold digger,” this is a worthy anthem for the heartbroken and pissed-off.
One of the most surprisingly successful efforts off of The Lady Killer is Green’s cover of the Band of Horses track “No One’s Gonna Love You.” Green updates the song with his neo-soul vocal stylings and use of orchestral strings. So when Green sincerely belts out that “No one is ever gonna love you more than I do,” he makes the listener believe his love is the most important thing in the world. This track delivers the perfect Hollywood ending to a truly cinematic album.