Karen O & Danger Mouse - Lux Prima (Vinyl)

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Lux Prima is a collaborative studio album by American singer-songwriter Karen O and Danger Mouse. It was released in March 2019 under BMG Records/Warner. 

After lucratively manning the boards for a series of big pop names in recent years – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele, Portugal, The Mancorrect et al – Danger Mouse delivers what feels like more of a passion project. It’s reminiscent of another of these, his 2011 album Rome with composer Daniele Luppi: both are heavily influenced by Ennio Morricone’s compositional style of pattering drumbeats and sweeping strings. His cinematic ambition is foregrounded in the opening title track, a nine-minute symphonic pop suite centred around a theme that is revisited on the closing Nox Lumina, and, truth be told, isn’t particularly exciting. It serviceably denotes grandeur and romance but without any real melodic invention.

Where the album comes alive is with more traditional songwriting, anchored by Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O, who co-writes throughout. Her image in the popular imagination – a makeup-smeared sex banshee – does her a disservice: she has huge emotional and textural range, something that the handsome production helps to foreground here.

The single Woman is the most reminiscent of the YYYs, where booming, Phil Spector-ish girl group drums power a strutting O forward, declaring her feminine agency in that signature yelp. But there are so many other sides to her here. Turn the Light clips down a hallway with a wonderful lack of haste, a disco-funk number to file alongside Natalie Prass and Kacey Musgraves’ records from last year. O gets southern-accented as she relaxes, and it’s songs such as this where Danger Mouse’s austere yet sensual production shines: you can feel the air between every element, as well as the points where they brush against each other. Even better is Leopard’s Tongue, another 60s pop curio where Danger Mouse ratchets up the beauty along with the pain by feeding in keys and then brass, and where O sketches out a complex sexual dynamic through her very voice as well as the lyrics: a seductive falsetto tightens into clenched uncertainty on the chorus. Lounge-pop numbers reminiscent of Air or early Goldfrapp aren’t quite as arresting, but the whole album casts a lingering spell.

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Danger Mouse and Karen O seem like an unusual pairing but at this point Danger Mouse seems to be enjoying the pure joy and the challenge of exploring sounds with an intentionally broad range of artists. Does any other producer have a resume as diverse as MF DOOM, Parquet Courts, Gorillaz, Norah Jones, Beck, Adele, Sparklehorse and U2 just to name a few?!

Here the two artists come together to explore the outer limits of soulful, indie dream pop with tracks that are vivid, lush, and groovy. These tracks are peppered with a couple of more muscular cuts that give Karen O a chance to give her confident, womanly, expressive voice a chance to soar.

At various moments I am reminded of Beach House, Dusty Springfield, Zero7, Michael Kiwanuka, Burt Bacharach, Phil Spector, Blondie, Pink Floyd, Beck, U.S. Girls, The Supremes, Air, Nancy Sinatra, Serge Gainsbourg, and more. Overall, the feel is a bit like the second Gnarls Barkley album, 'The Odd Couple'. Both albums combine lush production (full of a rich palette of instruments) with a mellow, lightly spacey/psychedelic soul feel. However, Karen O's voice and versatility give this album more depth and intrigue than 'The Odd Couple'. She is consistently beguiling and captivating here. Danger Mouse's wonderfully sumptuous arrangements flesh out things perfectly. The whole album has an exuberant, cinematic feel that is both soothing and deliciously colourful.

Whenever two relatively big name artists choose to collaborate there is the inevitable question of whether the whole can be greater than the sum of it's parts. Often two artists, each respected in their own fields, struggle to gel in a way that produces something new and rewarding in its own right. Here, Karen O and Danger Mouse have done what the best collaborations should do: they have brought out new sides in each other to create a new, cohesive and distinctive package that is so damn irresistible and delightful to listen to.

By: Foxtrot_Stowaway

A1 Lux Prima
A2 Ministry
A3 Turn The Light
A4 Woman
B1 Redeemer
B2 Drown
B3 Leopard's Tongue
B4 Reveries
B5 Nox Lumina

Licensed To – BMG Rights Management (US) LLC
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Lux Prima LLC
Copyright (c) – Lux Prima LLC
Licensed To – BMG Rights Management (US) LLC
Producer – Danger Mouse
Packaged in a gatefold, textured cloth sleeve.

Includes an obi, inner sleeve and a folded, 6-panel, double-side poster.
Includes a download code.