Release Date: Mar 15, 2019
Record label: BMG
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
When it comes to collaborating with the best musicians and artists on the planet, Danger Mouse is a Jedi master, having worked with Gorillaz, MF Doom, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, U2, The Black Keys, Adele, John Cale, Iggy Pop and many others. His most recent collaboration, with punk auteurs Parquet Courts, is the key to this new record. Half a decade ago, Danger Mouse collaborated with Daniele Luppi and Jack White on a record called Rome.
A heavenly collision Lux Prima - Latin for "first light" - marks the intersection of two of the most interesting musical careers of the 2000s: Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeah's) and collaborator/producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse. The former is among the most recognizable voices in the indie-rock scene, while the latter has a reputation for getting the most out of the artists he works with, be it producing Gorllaz' Demon Days or working with James Mercer (The Shins) on Broken Bells. So when these two decided to share a studio and record Lux Prima, expectations understandably shot through the roof.
This is a stately, cinematic listen from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman and the veteran producer, as they take up residency a few lunar resorts over from Arctic Monkeys' Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino "Every time I close my eyes / Someone else's paradise / Turns me into someone new," murmurs Karen O on 'Nox Lumina'. She probably didn't write it as a cloaked, meta reference to her collaboration with Danger Mouse, but it could be one. 'Lux Prima', the first album that sees the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman join forces with the genre-hopping producer and musician, presents a different side of Karen O There are no songs on this record that would require the singer to bend over backward onstage, wrap the mic cord around her neck and hawk mouthfuls of booze into the air or the audience.
The press release for Lux Prima declares that, "The pair co-wrote all of the songs, working with no boundaries or rules". Danger Mouse is coming off of a string of victories over the course of the decade as both producer and (co-)songwriter. Karen O , however, is coming off of back-to-back albums that felt stilted and awkward (Yeah Yeah Yeah's Mosquito) and inessential (her solo record, Crush Songs), neither of which played to O's strengths.
Any doubts that one may have about Karen O (enigmatic lead singer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and artist/producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells, Gorillaz, etc.) making strange bedfellows are quickly dismissed upon hearing the imaginative and gratifying Lux Prima. What is strange however, is the curious choice of the album opener. The 9-minute title track plays more like a two-part soundtrack that shifts gears mid-track from a mysterious, dreamy soundscape to a slinky, luxurious space-pop song.
With the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and on her own, Karen O proved herself one of the most powerful voices of the 2000s -- and one that went missing for most of the 2010s. While she took some well-deserved time to raise her child and pursue other projects, whenever she resurfaced, as on the 2017 Daniele Luppi and Parquet Courts collaboration Milano, it was a reminder of just how much she was missed. On her first album since 2014's Crush Songs, O draws on the different aspects of her previous work without repeating herself, blending together thoughtful ballads and the occasional fiery rock song with soundtrack-worthy atmospheres.
Download | Listen via Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play | Radio Public | Stitcher | RSS The Lowdown: We are secretly living in an age of great drummers, and Danger Mouse is one of those greats. If the man born Brian Burton had been born a few decades earlier, perhaps he'd be remembered like Max Roach: Beloved by those of us who love drummers, unknown to the normal and sane. But Danger Mouse had the good fortune to be alive during the digital boom, when his other talents could thrust him into the spotlight.
In the last five years alone, Danger Mouse has worked with everyone from Parquet Courts to Run the Jewels, while Karen O's recent CV includes the soundtrack to kids film Where the Wild Things Are and an industrial cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" in the company of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The two of them have become serial collaborators, and they have done so many different things that it is near-impossible to accurately predict what they might sound like together. On their new record Lux Prima, they appear to revel in the possibility of a blank slate.
Far too often, the enticing reveal of a high-caliber collaboration album ends up falling flat when the final product actually debuts. Often when two legendary figures in their respective fields come together the result is never as bold or focused as the artists' solo work. The fact is, when you have two competing visions or egos at odds, it will often produce a messy album, that doesn't live up to either of the artists' potential.
Iconic Yeah Yeah Yeahs' front-woman Karen O and world-renowned producer Danger Mouse set their stall out early with the theatrical introduction offered by their nine-minute, title-track epic. Whirring, mysterious sounds - reminiscent of sci-fi film scores - are eventually invaded by a chirpy, poignant piano…the worlds of the two creators collide instantly. There's a cinematic feel throughout the record with string arrangements controlling the mood, which shifts from dark and mysterious to infectiously euphoric in an instant.
T he last time Karen Orzolek made a record without the rest of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, it was a set of very lo-fi bedroom recordings about love, written about a decade earlier: 2014's Crush Songs. This time, the frontwoman has teamed up with Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton, an artist/producer operating across rock and hip-hop. He was in Gnarls Barkley with CeeLo Green, and produces everyone from the Black Keys to Adele.