Karen O, lead singer of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s has released her debut solo album Crush Songs, a collection of short love songs that make or more of a short picture book than a complete album, as these 15 tracks are musical snapshots from a period in her life.
The album is stripped back all the way back to the sort of lo-fi minimalism that you can find on Michael Cera’s album that he put out last month, if you’re looking for some more lo-fi/poorly produced sad lonely heartache songs to bury you into the winter ahead.
My problem with Crush Songs is that there is very little of anything here. Karen O sounds like she’s being recorded singing down the phone, which is just about ‘acceptable’ if you’re Guicci Maine or ‘cool’ if it’s Bad Brains but this production is purposeful; it plays like an old battered VHS where there are segments of film missing, you’re bashing on the VCR and then it skips back to life as a birthday scene plays and the audio is some crackly sing-a-long and you see your ex in the background smiling because this was a time when you were in love.
The main highlights of the album are songs that would benefit from being played by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Songs like ‘Rapt’ which I really like, the soft count in of ‘1…2…3…go’ is the tone for the entirety of the 25 minute album and the ‘love’s a fucking bitch’ is the only part of the album that’s stayed in my head. The song is so delicate that it works, and if this was an E.P. I think I’d appreciate it more. The opener ‘Ooo’ is actually tender but the album as a whole just isn’t able to keep it up due to the fact that the songs are so short, tracks like ‘NYC Baby’ come and go without making any real impression. In some place Karen sounds like a lo-fi Warpaint and I really like the screams on ‘Body’ which bring the track to life and I would love to hear it as a fuller thicker sound instead of being watered down rusted guitar strings.
From Karen’s point of view this album feels needed and I hope that some of this material can make it over onto a future Yeah Yeah Yeah’s album because their is more to be had from the few highlights that Crush Songs has. Overall it’s just mainly and average album that I guess I don’t care for because it almost coincidently, as a listener, feels needless. I’m just not a fan of the artsy effortless production, it just doesn’t grip me in an overwhelming dire emotional darkness like Chelsea Wolfe does. A three track single perhaps then? A free broken hearted mixtape? A sampler for the future? If this wasn’t Karen O, would we really be listening to it?