Cee Lo Green (aka Thomas Callaway) is one of the most intriguing artists of modern times. Green possesses one of the most soulful voices out there as a vocally, yet he additionally indulges into rap (he was a member of Goodie Mob back in the day). Perhaps the prominence of Green's soulful, unmistakable voice bowed in his turn with Danger Mouse in the exceptional duo Gnarls Barkley where Green's superb vocal performance made "Crazy" a mega-crossover hit. On The Lady Killer, Green spoils the listener with his distinctive vocals, mixed with his ingenious production work that expertly mixes anachronistic 70s soul and modern hip-hop sensibility. 'The Lady Killer' probably should have failed to make a cohesive effort given Cee-Lo's schizophrenic tendencies as a musician, but instead, the effort is one that is more `exceptional' than `flawed' in nature. Built loosely around the concept of `killing ladies,' 'The Lady Killer' is certainly enjoyable (maybe entertaining is the word).
After an odd, manic introduction sets the tone ("The Lady Killer Theme (Intro)), the synthesizer/string-laden/neo-soul produced "Bright Lights Bigger City" proves to be a smart, soulful opener. The strings are lovely and truly heighten the `1970s' sound which Green is trying to convey. The `hook' is solid, if simple and Green's vocals are exceptional. On viral hit and first single "F$%& You," Green has crafted a `once-in-a lifetime' novelty cut that greatly heightens his somewhat underrated profile. The track has surprising been embraced despite its profanity laden songwriting. In all respects, it is a `five-star' performance with superb production work (think 1960s/70s), catchy, strong songwriting, and a `killer' performance by Cee-Lo.
"Wildflower" is enjoyable as well, if less of a `victory lap' than "F$%& You." The hook of "Wildflower" is the highlight of the track, finding Green singing: "wonderful wildflower, oh open up, let me see... share your sunshine with me." "Bodies" is a true highlight, featuring superb production work with a full bass line underpinning the whole production work (not to mention superbly produced drums). Easily one of my favorite tracks, the hook is unmistakable here: "They said that chivalry is dead, then why is her body in my bed/ at sunrise morning papers read, they found a body in my bed!" "Love Gun," featuring Lauren Bennett follows, though the track itself seems a bit too indulgent and manic for even Green's own good. Bennett's guest vocals are assertive and captivating, but you cannot help but feel as a listener perhaps it's the slightest bit much. The track is best when Cee Lo performs, meaning Bennett never overshadows Green in the least.
"Satisfied," like "Love Gun" is solid, though not `valedictory.' Green's lower register is exploited here and while it sounds ok, all listeners will be happier when Green ascends into his golden, shining upper register. "I Want You" atones for any missteps as of yet with absolutely gorgeous vocals by Green and superb production work. "Cry Baby" may be less memorable than "I Want You," but it is potent and well constructed. "Fool For You" featuring Philip Bailey is better, with the beautiful sounds of 1970s soul pervading the production work. Cee Lo's lead vocals here are fantastic, particularly his upper register.
"It's OK" and "Old Fashioned" are exceptional moments. On "It's OK," the vocal production is stunning with Cee Lo's vocals sounding `clear as a bell.' As always the hook is exceptional ("It's ok, to say that you love you, I think of you, still thinking of you..."). On second single "Old Fashioned" Cee Lo really gets to show of his distinct vocals. "No One's Gonna Love You" proves to be a superb closing track that is brief in duration. The reprise of "The Lady Killer Theme" (this time an outro) closes the album.
Essentially, The Lady Killer is a superb effort and one that stands out from the more `generic' R&B of 2010 easily. I wish more artists would embrace being `unique' like Cee Lo, Janelle Monáe, and Erykah Badu; it would make for a much more interesting music scene in the R&B world. 4 stars.