When Cee Lo’s ”F— You” first bum-rushed the blog- osphere in August, it felt like the perfect late-season palate cleanser — a bright splash of bitters in this summer’s corn-syrupy cocktail of pop offerings. (The sterilized radio edit ”Forget You,” however, deserves to languish in PG-rated purgatory.)
While the rest of The Lady Killer doesn’t have anything quite as immediate as that finger-snapping, FCC-antagonizing throwback, the Gnarls Barkley singer (and sometime member of Atlanta rap pioneers Goodie Mob) hardly hangs his third solo disc on one flash of obscene inspiration. Lady Killer both honors and tweaks the tropes of vintage songcraft with hefty doses of sweet Motown/Stax boogie (”It’s OK,” ”Satisfied”), a smattering of Curtis Mayfield superfly (”I Want You,” ”Bright Lights Bigger City”), and imaginary theme songs for James Bond (”Love Gun,” ”Bodies”). Throughout, Green smartly adds enough modern flourishes to keep it all from becoming a too-slavish K-tel trip. But when his voice swoops from a low rumble to its highest register on a stunning, strings-laden cover of Band of Horses’ ”No One’s Gonna Love You,” going retro feels exactly right.