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Cee Lo Green: The Lady Killer (Elektra) 

Cee Lo Green delivers a solo triumph on The Lady Killer, an instant classic of neo-soul—funky, catchy, dance-y and, above all, an eccentric and brilliant batch of songs.

The album is an enthusiastic mix of strings, horns and backup singers on top of fantastic drum beats, head-bopping bass lines, skittering guitar accents and slinky piano riffs.

Cee Lo may be weird (or, uh, "Crazy"), but it's clear that he's on soul music's leading edge, brash and confident enough to remake classic formulas in his own way, sounding fresh and old-school at the same time.

The irresistible and infectious "Fuck You!" alone secures a place in history for The Lady Killer. It's the most clever and catchy bit of foul-mouthed pop ever, but it's hardly a novelty—and hardly the album's only hit.

Second single "It's OK" is bright and brassy; "Satisfied" rings with a Motown sweetness; "I Want You" is a powerfully romantic come-on, driven by Cee Lo's soaring voice; and Band of Horses cover "No One's Gonna Love You" is a truly unconventional gem.

Song by song, Cee Lo deconstructs the differences in relationships, from the common to the extreme. The Lady Killer touches on the devoted, enthralled, affectionate, seductive, lust-driven, contrite, pining, bitter, regretful and even murderous, using and shedding themes as if they were the masks people wear to display the shades of love.

Ultimately, in creating one of this year's best records, Cee Lo paints the game of love as one of constantly competing and shifting emotions—in short, just how it is.

More by Eric Swedlund

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