Karen O’s First Solo Album Is One Long Love Song

Crush Songs plays like a gentle autumn breeze in a silent park. It’s airy and simple, leaning towards the ethereal. Now, that might sound pleasant to some, but an ethereal and simple autumn breeze can get cold, it can strike bitterness if not properly dressed, and Karen O’s new album is just that: served cold and poorly dressed, much like the disenchantment over love that she gripes. But take it with a bottle of red wine and a lonely heart, and Crush Songs becomes an entirely different experience.

Karen O’s singing is like a melancholy yelping, stripped down to a guitar and a half empty bar of late-night drunks spiraling down cheap bottles of bourbon. The acoustic distilling is an approach that may leave much to be desired for seasoned Karen O fans. At fifteen tracks, the total run time reaches just under twenty-six minutes. The melodies are thin, and the words are like vapor clouding on the mirror: clouded and muddled, and the image becomes hard to decipher. This is a collection of singer/songwriter lo-fi interludes that take patience and a bit of pardon. Forgiven, there is something novel about Crush Songs, but it is niched and wrapped in it’s own woe-is-me banana leaf that might be inedible for some. This is what love is like sometimes, though: it takes patience, pardon, forgiveness, it’s bitter and inedible, and a little self-serving evaluation, especially once love has gone away.

The feel is reminiscent of Lana Del Rey’s earlier works as Lizzy Grant while matching the forlorn of Fiona Apple’s similarly acoustic disrobing The Idler Wheel… (although not in any metaphysical breaths but in gritty romantic metronome instead). Karen O whines yearnings from afar for idealized puppy love. The adoration builds no momentum, nor does it seem to want to. Crush Songs‘ initial seventies live folk recorded charm might have some appeal in a Quentin Tarantino film, and it stays for the entirety of the spin. However, it’s puzzling and intriguing that this is what Karen O decided to release as her first solo project. The record leaves that scratch-your-head feeling that purges the question—what was that? At least, at first.

That’s when the second listen comes along, and the mood resonates close to any residue broken-heartedness. Karen O’s visceral pleading for companionship is like a drunken catharsis, a guiltless admittance of late night jonesing that occurs every once in a blue moon. Anyone with a doleful soul will adore this album. Others expecting Yeah Yeah Yeahs jams will be taken aback, and those not knowing what to expect ought to explore Karen O’s other works before making up any opinions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.