Album review: Karen O, Crush Songs

“They are the soundtrack to what was an ever-continuing love crusade,” Karen O commented in her statement about the lovesick tracks found on her debut solo outing, Crush Songs (out Sept. 9 via Cult Records).

In comparison to her more bombastic sounds as frontwoman of the Grammy-winning Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Crush Songs finds the art-punk artist practicing a quiet, minimalist style that comes as a surprise, and it's this same bare and unassuming quality that inexplicably resonates in tracks like the cuttingly honest “Rapt" (“Love’s an f’ing bitch”) or “Native Korean Rock” (“The latest fashion is to quit all your crying”). Crush Songs moves and breathes like an open notebook full of overwhelming emotions quickly jotted down and regurgitated into shorter-than-three-minute bites, essentially metamorphosing the fleetingness of a crush into 15 cuts.

The lovesick-ness touched on throughout the album is pretty consistent, save for a song promoting self-love and acceptance, “Body” (“You gotta make it right for yourself / If you love somebody, anybody, there will always be someone else, so make it right for yourself”). She also offers up a sadder, more abstracted rendition of the Doors' underrated ode, “Indian Summer.”

Crush Songs is full of raw, stripped-back wanderings that sound as if they were recorded in some faraway shed. But these same qualities are what make the album so darn intriguing.

Critics' Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

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