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Album Review: Karen O & Danger Mouse Create Cinematic, Beautiful, Orchestral Musical World With 'Lux Prima'

Karen O & Danger Mouse build something new that matches their very accomplished, collective discographies.
Karen O & Danger Mouse

Danger Mouse & Karen O

Karen O & Danger Mouse have released their collaborative album Lux Prima. The album from acclaimed producer Danger Mouse and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s frontwoman Karen O seemed to come out of nowhere when it was announced last November, but it has been almost ten years in the making. The album finds Karen O step outside of the rock norm she occupies with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and into the diverse world musically that Danger Mouse maneuvers around in.

The album begins with a song that is really two in one. The ambitious nine-minute symphonic pop title track “Lux Prima” sets the table for the entire album. It draws the listener in to its grasp with an orchestral intro and then a soft, jazzy second part, while also introducing themes that will be present on the entire album. Karen O’s powerhouse voice is defined and showcased both as a tender accompaniment to soft guitars or strings, but also riding above and booming over rock ballads.

That passion is found throughout the album, but nowhere as present on the empowering “Woman” as she yells “I’m a woman, what you see.” The album recalls some elements of 60’s rock with blues and glittering pop.

The production is beautiful and feels like Danger Mouse has been here before. His experience lends its hand as he finds the right combination of drums, piano, horns, percussion and strings on songs like “Leopards Tongue” to keep this tranquil beauty about it, but also have an undercurrent of energy that waxes and wanes throughout the album.

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The cinematic feel of this album is no accident, as Karen O explained to EW, they wanted the listener to feel like they were listening to a movie in their head.

“It’s this idea of wanting the listener to have a movie playing in their head while they’re listening to it. It’s less extroverted. It’s a more introverted experience, but with little spikes — little flavor bursts — of extroversion in there for balance.”

The album finds just the right balance between rock, orchestral flourishes, pop and jazzy overlays. When two very accomplished collaborators from different parts of music come together on an album, it can be difficult to meet the expectations of their collective discographies, but they have managed to achieve that and build something new in the process. 

Stream the album below and pick up a copy here, which includes a vinyl version.

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