Cee Lo Green Cee Lo GreenThe Lady Killer
If you ask me, I’ll tell you that “Fuck You” is my favourite single of the year. The falsetto, the gospel choruses, the funkster euphoria, the disco touches, the final craziness: it is impossible for this song not to be able to save you for four minutes from your shipwreck of a separation, your boss’ plain stupidity, or the looks of disgust that life’s beautiful people reserve for losers. It’s catchy, resounding, it has just the right amount of commercialism, and since it comes from our chubby Goodie Mob, it has a freaky out-there quality to which many of us are surely able to relate. Cee Lo has managed to survive the tsunami of “Crazy”, the Gnarls Barkley hit that even people from the Galapagos were humming, with another bombshell that owes a great deal to crossover and Danger Mouse’s nose for pop, as a sidekick from whom the singer/rapper has learned a lot. “Fuck You” is an achievement that once again puts our man in the spotlight as a soloist, without accompaniment; him, his double chin, and his helium-filled vocal chords, and that’s it. Six years after his last solo effort, the dude is back, with, I insist, a hit of the same or even greater impact, shutting the door once and for all on a “Crazy” that was really starting to get on my nerves. I never enjoyed anybody telling me “fuck you” in my headphones so much.
If we take a look at his two previous albums, the notable “Cee Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections” (2002) and “…Is the Soul Machine” (2004), we can see right away that “The Lady Killer” shows the same retro-freak craftsmanship, but carefully polished, without any sharp edges, no roughness, no gratuitous trippiness, without the chaos that one sensed before. At this point, Cee Lo’s third LP is a collection of good songs, songs full of the urban drama of the most epic soul, songs defined by a constant use of blaxploitation chords, well-outlined pop melodies, woodwinds like in “Superfly”, cathedral choruses, and that affected falsetto of a Cee Lo who is chirping like never before. Well-rounded songs. In this sense, “Wildflower” and “Satisfied” are sturdy draft horses with a soul pop load, which clearly pull the cart and make the album digestible on the charts. There are even authentic hits in the cheesier fragments: romantic violins, summery trumpets, and smurfy laments blend together perfectly in the threesome made up of “I Want You”, “Cry Baby” and “Fool for You” possibly the best chain of cuts in the whole tracklist.
We are undoubtedly looking at the most centred, “cut-to-the-chase” album that Cee Lo has put out in his entire solo career. Even when he is going for the easy tears of the lost soulman, the dude pulls well-formed rabbits like “Old Fashioned” out of his hat – Lou Rawls, Prince, Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross all pouting together– or the epidermal “No One’s Gonna Love You”, with an epic love chorus that floods your ears like foam. “The Lady Killer” is an album of love, hate, angry proclamations to exes, hitting on people, passion, remorse, euphoria, and failure, but it is especially a lesson in soul pop to be taken note of by many of the social climbers who have jumped on the nu-Motown bandwagon. It might be his work that is most easily adaptable to the charts, it’s true, but his character is still intact. Cee Lo will stop being interesting the day he stops being Cee Lo—that is to say, the day that he stops playing that freak who looks at life from the shelter of the same vantage point as you, me, and almost all of the people reading these lines: nobody said we were winners, did they?