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CeeLo’s pop heart doesn’t beat as loudly on ‘Heart Blanche’

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Mike Pizzo

Three stars

Ceelo Green Heart Blanche

One could argue that Goodie Mob alumnus CeeLo Green ushered in this current wave of pastiche pop, since hits like “F*ck You” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” paved the way for others to hit retro gold with “Blurred Lines,” “Get Lucky” and “Uptown Funk.” CeeLo, who’s been relatively quiet since his 2012 holiday album, returns with Heart Blanche, and he hasn’t really changed his tune, much to his detriment. Channeling past sounds doesn’t make quite the same impact it did before everyone else was doing it.

There are a few moments where it does work, however. The delightful “Est. 1980’S” uniquely channels guitar licks from Duran Duran, as CeeLo name-drops his favorite bands from the early MTV era. Later, on “Sign of the Times,” he sings over Bob James’ lush classic “Angela (Theme from Taxi),” a match made in heaven. The heartfelt “Robin Williams” is a neatly penned ode to fallen heroes, but things get overly cheesy on songs like the disco-fied “Tonight” and “Working Class Heroes (Work).”

Though the album has standout moments, it tends to bore as it drags on. Perhaps CeeLo’s return to rap is overdue.

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