While many artists remain stagnant, Cee-Lo Green is constantly evolving. After revolutionizing Southern Hip Hop alongside Goodie Mob, Cee-Lo teamed up with the momentous producer, Danger Mouse, to form the experimental group, Gnarles Barkley. It was not long before this point that Cee-Lo realized he could do a lot more with his voice than rhyme and decided go out on his own as a vocalist. “When it comes to ladies, I have a license to kill” remarks Cee-Lo on the opener of his third solo album. With a unique voice and sensible lyrics, Cee-Lo is an unstoppable force on the brink of the mainstream, whose appeal is not limited to those of the fairer sex.
Getting under way with a big budget production, Cee-Lo induces a cinematic essence on “Bright Lights, Bigger City.” Sounding like a ’80s Lionel Richie revision, Cee-Lo Green takes listeners for a night on the town, leading into one of the year’s biggest sleeper sensations, “F*ck You.” The Bruno Mars co-written single, is remarkably catchy and poignant in vocal delivery. The sing-along tale of man who wishes to partake in halfhearted vengeance on his ex-girl is as relatable as it is memorable. “Bodies” is one of the only tracks on Lady Killer that can stack up to the repeat value of “F*ck You.” Over an elegantly simplistic drum roll, Green joyfully sings his heart out while living up to the album’s title. Cee-Lo smoothly narrates killing his woman with love amidst a slew of sly innuendos, suggesting, “here’s a kiss, sweetheart, this won’t hurt a bit/I can kill it with kindness or murder it.” Cee-Lo eclecticism is evident from the preceding up-tempo ballad entitled “Wildflower.” The retro quality of this tune synchs up perfectly with the remaining content of The Lady Killer.
“Satisfied” from his conquests, Cee-Lo moves on to an upbeat song that sounds more suitable for The Brady Bunch than for the man who penned “Dirty South.” “Satisfied” is overtly sparkly and while it’s commendable that Cee-Lo completely branched out for this one, the results aren’t spectacular. Luckily, Cee-Lo effortlessly transitions back into comforting territory on “I Want You.” Frase T. Smith, who handles a bulk of the production on The Lady Killer, and co-producer Jack Splash craft an illustrious soundscape of horns for Green’s vocals to sit atop. Ending the track, Cee-Lo reaches deep and belts out an impressive array of vocals, which is certain to disprove naysayers of ‘Lo’s range. “Cry Baby” is yet another retroactive tune draped with poppy aesthetics. Once again, Fraser T. Smith conveys an elaborate horn-encrusted production, as Cee-Lo Green croons an infectious chorus accompanied with echoing adlibs. “It’s OK” is a ’60s-esque redux to “F*ck You.” Assuring himself that “It’s OK” that his love is out on the town with another man, Cee-Lo sings of how he can’t help but think of her using a similar vocal pattern to the aforementioned hit single. “Old Fashioned” is a fitting title for the track that sounds like a slow song that would be played at high school dances of yesteryear. While this isn’t the most noteworthy track, it once again demonstrates Cee-Lo’s versatility. The Paul Epworth produced “No One’s Gonna Love You” is however an infectious album cut that is as much of a love song as it is a glorified headnodder. Lauren Bennet makes a cameo on The Lady Killer’s closing track. The duet is a hodgepodge of musical styling crafted around a southwestern guitar riff. While this isn’t the most stunning creation on Lady Killer, its validity is unquestionable.
One thing’s for certain with Cee-Lo Green; you never know what to expect. It’s hard to believe that Cee-Lo is more relevant today than ever. Then again, the man is constantly reinventing himself and leading the way as a Southern hitmaker. The Lady Killer is a conscious effort to stray away from virtually anything the Atlanta vocalist has done in the past. Working with producers who have solidified themselves as legitimate forces in the music world, Cee-Lo Green made sure The Lady Killer is as indefinable as it is remarkable.