fri 01/12/2023

CD: Karen O and Danger Mouse - Lux Prima | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Karen O and Danger Mouse - Lux Prima

CD: Karen O and Danger Mouse - Lux Prima

A great album that could’ve been one of the greats

Danger Mouse brings his trademark production to O's expanding range

As collaborations go, it’s a doozy. Karen O’s signature vocals over Danger Mouse’s production – it was always going to pique interest. And Lux Prima does much to meet expectations, gorgeous cinematic soundscapes that flit between haunting and defiant. At its best, its damn near mesmerising. But for those expecting a genre-defying, structure-blowing new horizon, it falls just short.

Of course, those parameters are wholly unfair to judge an album, but it was hard not expect something ground-breaking after the titular lead single “Lux Prima”. Clocking in over nine minutes, a synth groove whirlpool gives way to trip-hop and back, via an impossibly catchy chorus. Along with Karen O’s collaboration with Michael Kiwanuka last year “YO! MY SAINT”, it’s an audacious approach to songwriting that values the emotional journey over musical consistency; time signatures and verse-choruses be damned.

It’s not an approach that is followed through on Lux Prima. Structures are very much in place, and the production is trademark Danger Mouse. Which is, let’s be honest, still brilliant. As is often the case, it’s almost impossible to tell what’s a sample, and what’s just produced to sound like it’s pilfered from an old LP. On tracks like “Turn the Light” and “Leopard’s Tongue”, the drums and bass are warm enough to heat the Arctic Circle, while the orchestrations on “Drown” feel personally crafted by John Barry. In fact, much of the album sounds like it’s compiled from obscure 70s films that Tarantino would raid.

This comparison is further cemented by Karen O’s singing. More subdued that her Yeah Yeah Yeah days, her vocals pour out like caramel on songs like “Ministry”, caught in an accepted longing that channels Dusty Springfield. It’s a style she sticks with for much of the album, though second single “Woman” is closer to her gritty form, howling over a Motown beat refashioned to conquer. It’s an accomplished, hypnotic display of her range.

Final track, “Nox Lumina”, mirrors the opening “Lux Prima” as an extended odyssey through synths and desire. It brings everything full circle, but also reminds the listener of what could’ve been. Despite all the pre-release talk of pushing musical boundaries and complete creative freedom, Lux Prima holds little surprise. It doesn’t sound like either Karen O or Danger Mouse were particularly far from their comfort zone. Perfect to play through a good sound system and let the melancholia wash over. Just don’t expect to be challenged, it’s not going to change the world. Maybe it could’ve.

Much of the album sounds like it’s compiled from obscure 70s films that Tarantino would raid


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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