Karen O.:Crush Songs

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Karen O

Karen O.
Crush Songs
(Cult)
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Listening to tapes of songs recorded privately in the home of a singer/songwriter is akin to reading someone’s personal diary. These 15 primitive performances from 2006/2007 capture Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ often frantic frontwoman Karen O. in the most sedate and fragile of moods.  In that sense they are closer to “The Moon Song,” her Oscar nominated contribution to Spike Jones’ Her movie, than to most of the material from the band she has fronted since 2001. It’s hard to imagine a more intimate album, simply because it was never meant to be heard by anyone.

That said, this is a tough listen and not in a good way. Most of the songs are little more than unfinished sketches, most just over a minute long, waiting for more inspiration to be completed. Karen O. sings, mumbles, whispers, moans, hums and lazily strums an acoustic guitar like she has never held one before as she works out vague lyrics about love crushes and other subjects that might be interesting to her, but not many others. The super low-fi, seemingly cassette, recording makes Nebraska seem like a Phil Spector production. It suits these partially conceived pieces, framing these snippets in the most embryonic of settings.

Perhaps some hardcore fans may find this worthy of a spin or worth 25 minutes of their time, but these are lackadaisical barrel scrapings only superstars should consider releasing, and even that’s debatable. What inspired her or the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, founder of the Cult Records label, to put these out commercially is unclear because as solo debuts go, this is a misstep better left forgotten.

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