It's possible, only remotely that someone hasn't heard Cee Lo's newest album The Lady Killer yet. I say remotely not because the album is nearing two months old, but because Green appeared on last week's episode of Saturday Night Live. (And this link too!) That is usually the yard-stick by which pop-culture ubiquity is measured. So, since Green was on SNL it sure seems like any and all interested parties would have taken the time to give him a listen. But, then, I wonder if I'm overvaluing the idea of musical popularity in 2011. Maybe what really happens with Cee Lo, et al., now is that EVERYONE listens to "Fuck/Forget You" (Don't get me started on the editing issue...) and then once they are tired of that song, only a tiny percentage wants to know what else he can do. Music in 2011 is like a series of hand-picked one-night stands. Lasting relationships are dead. (That last one was meant to be a Nietzsche thing.) But Cee Lo must be used to and content with this, made peace with his demons so to speak, since his break out hit, the Gnarls Barkley track "Crazy" was also railroaded until society bled from the ears. Hits are great, yeah, woo! Love me some hits! But there's usually some good shit hanging around the rest of the album too.
So, since I'm pretentiously taking on the role of "guy who cares about albums," let's talk about the greatness that happens on The Lady Killer in the spaces... well, songs! around "Fuck You." Cee Lo is definitely a soul genius, and his vocals are alive and vibrant through out. It's that comforting blend of choral and lusty R&B that makes him so great. That and the range. He can sing. Fact. So, as an album, The Lady Killer opens with a beautiful piece of heady-art-irony. Green says he's born to "kill" and a din of dramatic sounds clatter. It's that tongue-in-cheek touch that sets the tone of the album. This will be about sex, love, and loss. And it is. So after "Fuck You" when you get a great anthem song like "Wildflower," a sort of perfect blend of beauty and self-confidence, distilled into musical form, you start to realize that the album, yay! is greater than the sum of its parts. "Bodies" is the same way. Green penchant for drama comes alive with this noir track that is simultaneously dangerous and sexy, and even features some low-level moaning/heavy-breathing reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin.
And guess what? The whole album is phenomenal! Songs like "Love Gun" and "Bright Lights Bigger City" are drama and reference set to music. The horn flourishes on "Cry Baby" are excellent, too. But maybe I'm just a sucker for brass. Green moves across genres seamlessly, utilizing surf rock, hip hop, big band, jazz, blues and rock to create unique moods for each of his songs, and sometimes they swivel about inside a single song, too. The Lady Killer is hugely diverse, thoughtful, especially lyrically, and ultimately fun from top to bottom. And the insanely delicious treat comes at the end of the album. Green covers "No One's Gonna Love You," originally by Band of Horses, and he puts a whole new veneer on the song. I don't know if it qualifies as the definitive version, since the BoH original is one of my favorites, but Green's mournful, soulful vocals add an extra dimension. The song feels more like a "let's make love song" than a "please don't break my heart song" so that from that what you will. So, The Lady Killer, acquire it! It's worth your time, and it offers so much more than just "Fuck You," if you'll just turn your one-night stand into a weekend, or maybe more...
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