Karen O is my Queen
Karen O is incredibly versatile. She is most widely recognizable as the frontwoman for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. When they first started, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs blew our collective minds with an explosion of low-fi punk-influenced rock on their debut album Fever to Tell (2003). Their follow up album Show Your Bones (2006) was similar to the first, but Karen O turned on a dime when the synth pop singles “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll” from their third album It’s Blitz! in 2009. The band evolved in a huge way from one album to the next. And yet the transition felt natural as though Karen O was born to perform this kind of music and all past projects lead to this logical conclusion.
Then Karen O continued to impress. A series of collaborations and projects have supplemented her career as the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. She wrote a soundtrack of original songs for Spike Jonze’s film Where the Wild Things Are (2009). In 2011, Karen O worked with Trent Resnor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) and Atticus Ross on an industrial rock cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song” for the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), a rendition of the song that still blows me away every time. She worked with Spike Jonze again on the film HER (2013) when she wrote “The Moon Song,” earning her a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Original Song that year.
Now Karen O and Danger Mouse are working together. Danger Mouse’s resume is equally as expansive and diverse as Karen O’s with a huge list of successful collaborations and producer credits. Danger Mouse has worked with talents like Adele, the Black Keys, Jack White, Norah Jones, the Gorrilaz and more. Basically, think of any cool or exciting artist in today’s music scene and there’s a good chance Danger Mouse has worked with them at some point. He has a signature groove so unique and efficient it can be recognized within seconds.
Their album, Lux Prima, released on March 15th and it is drawing a lot of attention. Karen O and Danger Mouse performed the single “Woman” on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert this week. Spike Jonze directed the performance which was shot in black and white and features dancers choreographed around a burned car. The song itself is a highlight of the album. “Woman” kicks off with a Motown vibe to a marching beat and a chorus of female chants. “What you see/ ain’t what I need,” Karen sings, declaring that her femininity is more than skin-deep. This song is a must-have for any female empowerment playlist.
The title track of the album, “Lux Prima” clocks in at over nine minutes long. It feels like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, focusing more on creating an atmosphere than a melody. This opening motif repeats at the end of the last track of the album, “Nox Lumina”, making this an album that travels to strange and distant places only to circle back around on itself. The effect is very cinematic as though these songs accompany a film or some greater narrative. To drive this point even further, the songs “Redeemer” and “Reveries” feature guitar riffs that sound like they came right out of a spaghetti Western. It is easy to picture these songs in Kill Bill, or some other Tarantino flick (and I mean that in the best possible way).