Karen O / Danger Mouse - Lux Prima
Karen O / Danger Mouse
Stage left- Karen O.
Born in South Korea, journeyed to America, formed a little band called the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, and was a major catalyst in the revival of the NY rock scene in the early 2000s.
Aside from being an influential and diverse musician, her persona is bigger than life - with major accolades and frequent “hottest woman in music” designations. Her music has always been unique, cutting edge, and impactful. She’s done it with punk and she’s done it with kids movies.
Stage right - Danger Mouse
An unendingly talented producer and music maker, Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton launched himself with a mashup album, created a soul duo that dropped one of the most iconic choruses of all time, and produced a perpetual amount of music classics with artists like Beck, The Shins, The Black Keys, and Gorillaz.
So, what do you get when you add these two explosively talented juggernauts together? Surely, something potent. Something interesting. Something…..something.
Their collaboration and internal pull to create music together is exciting, but sounds more like a firework still waiting for the fuse to get to the goods. Lux Prima comes across as an exploratory effort that could perhaps use a few more minutes in the musical microwave.
This 9 song, 40 minute album starts with the title track, which sounds like a newly uncovered Moby tune that morphs into a psychedelic string-filled journey. It works essentially as a medley, with three main concepts tied together into one long track. It’s lush and serene, and if you’re willing to float in the clouds with the duo you’ll be rewarded with a few impressive moments. It swells, it swoons, it manages to grip the listener for most of its length.
The entire album, while in places does wade slightly into different styles, has the aesthetic of its opener - a slow float downstream in absolutely no rush. And perhaps that’s why Lux Prima feels like more of an appetizer than an entrée.
The duo feels comfortable leaving the tracks wide open, refusing to trim fat or go conventional, and while that can often create commendable moments in music - Lux Prima is surprisingly dull.
“Ministry” wraps around a simple and effective guitar riff, complete with a sexy guitar solo, but is bloated at over five minutes. It’s probably the most indicative tune on the album that this tandem could be onto something special, but fails to really fire on all cylinders.
The album meanders through its middle section with some simplistic instrumentation anchored by Karen O’s intrinsically engaging sound. But, for a such a vibrant and storied vocalist, she remains generally subdued throughout Lux Prima.
And so does the album as a whole. Simultaneously able to push boundaries, while doing nothing with the new found extra space its created.
There is reason for optimism here, and more things are coming from this unexpected collaboration. But, for now, it’s like saying “bless you” when someone sneezes - a nice thought, but ultimately inconsequential.