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Karen O.

Crush Songs

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O. found herself falling in and out of love and crushing hard with alarming frequency back when she was 27. Mid-twenties crises being what they are, and not feeling sure if she’d ever fall deeply in love again, Karen therapeutically penned the bulk of the songs which have finally come to fruition (now that she is 35 and married) on her debut solo album, the beautifully lo-fi Crush Songs. On the whole, the album has the felling of a series of spontaneous sketches, replete with longing and mixed emotions, which seems appropriate in reflecting the ephemeral nature of crushes. On the first track, “Ooo,” Karen’s art-damaged voice comes accompanied by only an acoustic guitar: “Don’t tell me that they’re all the same / ’Cause even the sound of his name / Carries me over their reach / Back to some golden beach / Where only he remains,” she warbles, like a deconstructionist, soul-tortured torch singer. “Rapt,” by contrast, finds O. opining that, “Love is soft / Love’s a fucking bitch / Do I really need / Another habit like you?” Further on, “Body” finds Karen advising, “If you love somebody, anybody / There will always be someone else / So make it right for yourself.” Then there is the gleefully jejune “King,” on which O. sings, “King of Pop is dead and gone away / No one’ll ever take his place / He’s in his castle in the sky / Watching over you and I / And with his single sparkling glove / He blows us kisses to show his love / Is he walking on the moon? / I hope I don’t find out too soon.” Is this the expression of a genuine Michael Jackson tribute/crush or a farcical reflection on the cult of personality as applied to “Saint Michael”? Either way, it’s a gem of a tune on a diamond in the rough of a record that just might leave you crushing on Karen O.

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