Music Reviews
Crush Songs

Karen O Crush Songs

(Cult Records) Buy it from Insound Rating - 3/10
Releasing a solo record is tricky business. For an artist like Karen O, who is already part of an established and critically-acclaimed band, it can be difficult to break perceptions or ideas of what the record should sound like. While Crush Songs doesn't bring up thoughts of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, it is still a lackluster effort.
 
When she announced Crush Songs, Karen O said they were written between 2006 and 2007, a time where she "crushed a lot" and wasn't sure if she would fall in love again. As a result, her debut album conjures up a torch song vibe, dealing with her sadness and longing from failed or unfulfilled relationships. The music does not lead up to this lofty goal, though.
 
From the first minute of Ooo, you've heard a good portion of the record. This is an album of simple acoustic chords strummed alongside lullaby vocals with a very lo-fi production. To put it simply, it's a demo. This is a record of demos. It doesn't sound like anything was changed from the time it was recorded to its release. This choice makes Crush Songs at the most a curiosity, and at the least, a slog. 
 
Still, let's start with the few positives here. When a song is good, it's good, no matter how rough it is around the edges. Rapt is the best of this set, carried by Karen O's performance, which sounds heartbroken and angry at the same time. It doesn't really go anywhere, but its short length keeps it enjoyable. Day Go By is another earworm, carried by an upbeat tempo and Karen O's climbing vocals. 
 
Besides these two, other songs only have interesting or memorable elements. Visits livens things up with some clacking percussion. Body shakes you awake with a moment of screams and noise. Singalong throws in backing vocals that offer a deep counter to Karen O's voice. 
 
Given that these songs mostly clock in under two minutes, that should be enough to carry the flat arrangements and melodies, but it's not. It's like hitting a nice stretch of clear roads for 10 minutes when you've been sitting in traffic for an hour. Not worth the trouble. The five songs that stretch from Beast to So Far are so similar and monotonous that I doubt anyone could remember how they go. Native Korean Rock wastes an intriguing spoken-word piece with bland strumming and a literally blank second half. The song is only two minutes. 
 
Even though the songs on Crush Songs are very short, its 15 tracks seem to last forever. That shouldn't be the case in an album that clocks in under a half hour. Given the quality of past Karen O songs like All Is Love and The Moon Song, plus her experimental, go-anywhere attitude, this is the most disappointing product she could have put out. Hopefully she'll let her next effort get further along than the demo phase before it is released.