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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Jul 23rd, 2019

Karen O and Danger Mouse- Lux Prima

Karen O and Danger Mouse
Lux Prima
(BMG Rights Management)

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When Danger Mouse was a kid and his folks went to parent-teacher conferences, I’ll bet his teachers told them he plays well with others. The man is not only one of the most sought after producers working today. He’s also a prolific collaborator, starting projects and putting out records with a variety of artists. His latest is Lux Prima with co-conspirator Karen O and guess what, it’s really good.

If I had to compare it to other Danger Mouse projects I’d say it falls somewhere between Broken Bells and Modern Guilt, the album he produced for Beck. The music has that indie rock meets hip-hop vibe, with lots of funky rhythms and an experimental touch. A few of these songs could’ve absolutely been Broken Bells songs. Or listen to “Redeemer” but imagine Dan Auerbach singing it. It would easily fit on one of the Black Keys’ albums that Danger Mouse produced.

Karen O makes all the difference though. This is perhaps the best showcase of her vocal abilities to date. Her sultry, upper register delivery pushes much of the album into Portishead territory. For someone known for their banshee-like caterwauling, she’s a surprisingly good fit for the trip-hoppy material. It takes four songs for her to really start rocking out. That song, “Woman,” is a highlight for sure but it also would’ve turned out very different as a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song. It’s got some heavy guitars but they’re flavoring a Motown-style beat. The end result is something like The Four Tops Go Punk.

“Reveries” is another track that shows the benefit of collaboration. It’s a really beautiful, really minimal song in the vein of Karen O’s lo-fi Crush Songs record. But Danger Mouse knows how to make it sound lo-fi and “produced” at the same time. The subtle use of keyboards and guitar effects enhances the finished product without destroying its gentle essence. On this, and pretty much every track, we can hear two multi-talented musicians digging the fact that they get to work together and being mutually inspired by one another. For fans of both, the results don’t disappoint.

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Karen O and Danger Mouse- Lux Prima