10 October 2014

Karen O - Crush Songs


Solo careers are sometimes strange, sometimes misguided and sometimes the best thing that can happen to an artist.  It can be seen as either an ego trip, an expression of something that cannot be given in their current musical group or just a way to let off steam.  If I am honest, I did not expect Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to be a solo artist.  Karen O is an artist who I have enjoyed for a long while in the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; her voice is very distinctive and unusual in that group of artists as she seems to be the only girl to have sung in New York.  I know this is not the case, but the media coverage of that New York scene which brought out The Strokes, Interpol and other acts would make you think that it was.  However, she has done some stuff outside of the YYY's already; but this was not something that I would have imagined coming out.  What you have here is a collection of demos to be honest; it was written when Karen O was 27 and as she is quoted to be saying that she was crushing hard at that time.  It is a little strange that these have not been polished up slightly, re-done for the new release; but I sort of get the feeling that Mrs O is very proud of the songs in this format.  Well, let’s see if the songs are any good....

Starting the album is "Ooo" which sets the tone from the beginning; these were demos which were not originally for the mass general public, just for Mrs O herself.  It is a gentle strumming number that sounds very pleasant on the ear.  Next is "Rapt", this song feels slightly unfinished to be honest; there is nothing wrong with it, but it feels like it could have added further instruments to embellish the song to a strange love song.  "Visits" starts off with the drum machine beating away in the background, before the vocals start with very minimal guitar work in the tune.  It is another number that is nice when it is on, but it is not memorable if I am honest.  "Beast" is next and it is the longest song of the album, just short of three minutes.  It is a strange track if I am honest, feeling like the song of a siren trying to entice the sailor towards the rocks.  "Comes The Night" also feels like a spooky and dangerous number, feeling like it could be used in the TV show "Twin Peaks".  It is dark, desolate and short.

But it is nowhere near as short as "NYC Baby" which could be "Rapt" part 2, it is another song that feels unfinished and in need of embellishment, this is becoming a familiar tale of the album to be honest.  "Other Side" has that similar issue as well, but mixed with the Twin Peaks feeling of "Comes The Night".  This is one of the more interesting songs of the album, but once again it feels like there was more to come from the song.  "So Far" does not really change the mood of the record of the under construction element of the record, it is not bad or uninteresting; it is just not complete.  "Day Go By" feels a little more jolly compared to the last few numbers; there is a sing-able quality in this number which is not quite reached in other numbers on the record.  Once again, the phrase work in progress comes to mind and there is a shade of disappointment for me when I think what it could become.  "Body" is the tenth track of the album and part way through it sounds like Satan has taken over Santa’s sleigh bells.  A bit disjointed, but again it shows that these songs were not quite finished.

"King" follows on, much as the rest of the album has done beforehand.  You can only grasp as to what these songs might has become if they had been given a chance to grow a little more.  After this comes "Indian Summer" which feels like it is actually complete, it is a drifting number that would be hard to add to, I think the main reason for this is that it is a cover of a song by The Doors.  But it is still a strange interlude to have gotten this far in the album, to only have one song sound complete (and still not as good as other incomplete numbers).  "Sunset Sun" is a return to the form of the album which has been remarkably empty compared to what people have heard from Karen O before.  Penultimate song "Native Korean Rock" needs to be completed, it needs more for that is a sick little riff that could become a monster, the lyrics are interesting and along with "Day Go By" it just underpins that this is a collection of rough unfinished songs.  Ending the album is "Singalong" which also features the vocals of Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence; perhaps it suits the album as it does not quite feel right or complete. 

This might feel personal and close for Karen O; these might be songs dear to her heart for that specific time of her life.  However, they are not quite right, not finished and they seem amateurish to be honest.  I have demos from bands I have been in that this sort of quality, the difference is that Karen O is an international artist of substantial standing; I am just a douche from the North East of England who does not have that level of musical ability or talent, so I find it strange that this is her first solo release.  It might be a personal record, but it could have been polished a little maybe; I know a lot of my friends love this record, I wish I could join them.  File under one to be completed later.....

2.5 out of ten - If only there was some quality control

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Karen O website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is a link for our Deezer users here

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