Karen O & Danger Mouse Lux Prima BMG
As vocalist of art punk outfit Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O is an electric front-woman. She’s charismatic and energetic, with an ear for catchy hooks and a voice that cuts through the band’s agitated guitars and clattering drums. But her Achilles’ heel can be found by looking closely at her lyrics. Often a collage of muddled metaphors and airy aestheticism, this is largely eclipsed by the band’s unruly sound and her vibrancy as a performer.
In the case of her latest offering Lux Prima, a collaboration with prolific producer Danger Mouse, her weaknesses in songwriting become impossible to ignore. The catchy hooks are mostly gone; the tone is introspective. Danger Mouse is the steady hand in the background bringing the album’s lush, smooth soundscapes into being, but sadly they do little to deflect from O’s impenetrably vague writing.
Intelligible ideas can just about be glimpsed in the alphabet soup of meaning she creates – feeling like nothing in the world matters but your partner on the title track, or the importance of positive self-talk in Woman – but they’re so unclear that it’s difficult to connect with them emotionally. Translating as ‘Luxury First’, the album’s title is appropriate in describing its prioritisation of style over substance. And style can’t save this one.