Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
While it is endearing to hear Karen O working with a more patient form of songwriting, the raw energy and emotion of her best work isn’t present on Lux Prima
The woozy, glamourous pop that colours much of Lux Prima is new territory for Karen O, who’s spent this decade in a state of flux. From her slightly awkward 2013 effort with Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Mosquito) to her stripped-back soundtrack work for Her and Where the Wild Things Are, her sound has hopped around without finding a home.
But for Danger Mouse, it’s the same as it ever was. The producer made a career collaborating with big name artists, from Beck and The Black Keys to Cee-Lo Green and MF Doom. His textured and genuinely thrilling recent production for Parquet Courts is a rare exception.
Here, the writing and sound are as serviceable and predictable as you’d expect. The nine-minute titular opener initially impresses, with its morphing structure and cinematic sweeping strings, but by the end of it you’ll have heard every sound you’ll hear across the whole album. What initially seems grand and expansive sounds shallow when spread this thin, and that’s mostly because of how the instruments are treated. The horns on Leopard’s Tongue and the choir on Drown imply dynamics, but sit flat in the background.
It doesn’t help that Danger Mouse was playing about with these same ideas ten years ago with Broken Bells. Back then, they were a free single of the week on iTunes. Now, the ideas are too safe to even get plastered on an Apple ad. This might have been salvaged with bold writing, but the core songs are mostly formed of simple choruses, with descending chromatic chord sequences that get repetitive when you notice the pattern.
While it is endearing to hear Karen O working with a more patient form of songwriting, the raw energy and emotion of her best work isn’t here.
Listen to: Lux Prima, Turn the Light