It’s a bit of a risk to review “Lux Prima.” We writers of RR are avowed fans of Danger Mouse and have covered many great albums he’s done with fantastic emcees. While that makes us think of him as a rap producer, the truth is that his musical ambition stretches beyond the artificial boundaries of that genre. Early projects like “The Grey Album” teased his pop sensibilities, while Gnarls Barkley full on embraced them to the point DJ Complejo quipped “it’s just not a rap album or even a soul album.” And that leads us to Danger Mouse’s collaboration with Karen O, a singer who unlike (the problematic) Cee-Lo I was completely unfamiliar with before this album.

If I was more in tune with indie rock I would have known Karen is the lead singer for a group called Yeah Yeah Yeahs. She’s also got a compelling life story that I want to delve into further beyond this review. Born in Seoul, South Korea as the child of a Polish father and Korean mother, her family ultimately emigrated to Englewood, New Jersey where she spent her formative years as a “well behaved” child before embracing her rock star side. I’m sure going to Tisch helped bring that out but as I said I’ve got a lot more to learn about her history. What I do know is that her vocal stylings are a compelling match for Danger Mouse’s production. He gives her an airy, breathless quality when mixed with his pounding drums and smooth melodies on songs like “Leopard’s Tongue.”

It somehow manages to sound like a slice of 1960’s psychedelia and modern day production all at the same time. When you’re Danger Mouse, that’s just how you roll. He flips the script on “Reveries” for a very minimalist track that puts Karen squarely in the forefront. The strumming is an afterthought and her distorted vocals drown them out pleasantly. If you’re the kind of hard rock who lives for sex, drugs and violence then this will undoubtedly be too “emo” for you lyrically.

“As I slip down underneath
Please don’t tempt me with your ecstasy
So when I go, I go quietly
Out of your arms
Through space, I fell”

As I said at the beginning, reviewing this album is a risk. I can’t and will not claim that “Lux Prima” is a rap album any more than “St. Elsewhere,” but truth be told I enjoyed Gnarls Barkley a hell of a lot. Whenever someone reviews an album for the site I accept their score as is, even if people disagree with the results when it’s published (and they do), but I can’t help but think I would have given the second Gnarls Barkley album more even if I now like Cee-Lo as a person a whole lot less. And given Karen O doesn’t seem to have any baggage in her closet that I’m aware of, I can unapologetically enjoy “Lux Prima” exactly as is. “I’m nowhere/I’m no one/I’m nobody” quips Karen on the title track, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Karen O x Danger Mouse :: Lux Prima
8.5Overall Score