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Cee-Lo

Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections (Arista)

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Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections may well be the Pet Sounds of its time. Both share the common theme of spirituality and maturity, evoking naive yet thoughtful notions of God and love. Both use the pop idiom -- particularly soul and rhythm and blues -- to create daring and innovative music. Both are enlightening, yet enjoyable and easy listening.

Cee-Lo's strongest asset is his voice. Comfortable as both gospel singer and pimp, the Dungeon Family rhymer blends the two and adds more than a healthy dose of Al Green. His words seem almost impossibly syncopated, yet never sound forced. On the two more straightforward hip-hop cuts, "Big Old Words (Damn)" and "One for the Road," Cee-Lo proves he still has the skills to battle anybody on the mic.

Still, it's the simple songs, like "Gettin' Grown," that steal the album. With lyrics like "And when I fall it's usually hard/But I get up and keep following God," the song reveals a direct correlation between Cee-Lo and Brian Wilson, as does the touching "Under the Influence (Follow Me)," which, in pure Wilsonesque splendor, declares: "I've forgotten where I've come from/I can't remember where I'm going/So when you take my hand/You just got to trust me/Even though I'm blind."

Musically, the album flows effortlessly from the rootsy funk of "Closet Freak" to the dubby psychedelia of "Basehead Jazz." In short, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections may well join the list of modern music's most important albums.

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