Ne-Yo says he didn't plan to rush his new album, "Year of the Gentleman," his third release in as many years, into production.

Ne-Yo says he didn't plan to rush his new album, "Year of the Gentleman," his third release in as many years, into production. "I wanted the third album to be something a little different from the first and second as far as the essence and the sound of what I was doing," he says of the Def Jam set. "So I was going to chill for a minute and really take some time to figure out what I wanted that to be. Fortunately, it didn't take me that long, which is why the album's coming out now."

The album features production by longtime Ne-Yo colleagues Stargate, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, J.R. Rotem and members of Ne-Yo's Atlanta-based Compound Entertainment crew.

"Closer" is a Stargate-produced club track with pulsing strobe-light synths and a high-energy house beat that calls to mind Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music." Already a hit internationally, the cut has slowly climbed the Billboard Hot 100 and is at No. 8 this week.

Elsewhere, "So You Can Cry" sports a mellow, easy-listening vibe, with Ne-Yo making a priceless rhyme of "pity party" and "calamari." Guitars and cymbals figure prominently in "What's the Matter," which Ne-Yo likens to "a Beatles-style rock record."