Review: Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima


Hey look, it’s another collaborative album, and much like my last review, it features some artists that I’m familiar with to some extent.

Most of us know Karen Lee Orzolek (aka Karen O)  as the lead vocalist of the indie rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs and while I had no knowledge of the majority of their works or even her 2014 solo album prior to this, I do recall some projects she’s appeared on. These include N.A.S.A’s “Strange Enough,” which featured Fatlip and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard and remixed with “Shaft’s Theme” by Isaac Hayes in the first DJ Hero (yes, folks, I used to play that game back in 2009), her soundtrack work on Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, and she wrote “The Moon Song” with Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend for Her. She’s even covered Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the 2011 American remake of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, and I remember being OK with that cover… then again, knowing that Greta Van Fleet is a thing, they might remake that (or have they? I don’t listen to Greta Van Fleet, so I’ll leave that to Rob and/or Alex).

Of course with Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) you know him a lot from his collaborative projects with CeeLo Green (Gnarls Barkley), James Mercer of The Shins (Broken Bells), and of course MF Doom with DangerDoom, on top of producing for many artists from A$AP Rocky, Adele, and The Black Keys. He’s even produced the Gorillaz’ quintessential album Demon Days, and he has his own imprint on Columbia Records: 30th Century Records (and if you remember, that’s the label that released the soundtrack to Baby Driver featuring “Chase Me” with RTJ and Big Boi – dope song, BTW.)

OK, so with two singles released already, the title track and “Woman”, I knew that going into this would bring that indie rock aesthetic with some pop tinges in its sound. Given that the majority of what I heard from Danger Mouse production-wise has been hip-hop related, I was interested to see how he can do this sound.

40 minutes later (and maybe a few or more listens to this album), the duo absolutely nailed what they were going for.

The opening (and title) track “Lux Prima” has this lush, dreamy, space-opera production that transcends into something that sounds like French pop, and this sound continues into the next track “Ministry”, which I loved, and it sounds very dramatic along with Karen O’s vocals and the amazing chorus:

So day by day, I’ll turn my dreams
Into a ministry, a ministry, a ministry of her love
Day by day, I’ll turn my dreams
Into a ministry, a ministry, a ministry of her love

“Woman” is one of the album’s more upbeat and intense tracks that highlights Karen’s powerful and emotional vocals powerful, especially with this being the “fuck you if you mess with me” track, and I have a lot of respect for it. This is also an album that doesn’t have much meat in the song writing looking over the lyrics, although the songs aren’t that short and there’s a bit more focus on the instrumental sections of this album. It’s almost similar to Mitski’s Be The Cowboy from last year where the minimal songwriting is elevated through the excellency of its execution. Another song that I immediately kept getting into was “Leopard’s Tongue”, mainly for the way Karen O delivered the chorus, and that production is dead on with the performance. “Reveries” and “Drown” are more favorite songs of mine and the cinematic sound of them is a major highlight.

Overall, it’s a solid, superb album with beautiful, dreamy production from Danger Mouse and amazing vocals from Karen O, whether it’d be something with a groove vibe or a space-opera aesthetic. It makes the 40 minutes spent listening to it engaging, and it’s definitely worth multiple replays.

VERDICT: Buy It. This album is definitely out of this world.

LUX PRIMA is available from Lux Prima, LLC through BMG Rights Management on CD, Vinyl, digital download and streaming services.

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