By Zachary Wright
Editor in Chief
Music industry vet Brian Burton partners with Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O to present “Lux Prima,” a hazy, dreamy collaborative that takes listeners on a journey. Rather than focusing on a particular sound, Burton said the album takes the listener to a certain place.
This place is somewhere private, shut off from the outside like an exclusive safe haven that offers refuge. O and Danger Mouse masterfully blend their styles together to create something exotic. O’s voice, both delicate and powerful, is complimented by the genius sound that is Mouse’s creation, unique due to their styles. The two are so different from each other, but as the saying goes, “Opposites attract,” and in this instance, the two mismatched misfits attract beautifully.
The album starts off with the title track, “Lux Prima.” This nine-minute orchestra wisps listeners on a melodic journey. The beginning is met with an orchestra that blends seamlessly into a drum-and-bass groove. O expertly blends her delicate voice to create this equal parts serene and haunting psychedelic that makes it feel like you’re watching yourself during an out-of-body experience.
For the most part, the album is an aquatic journey on an undiscovered expanse of an otherworldly ocean. Smooth sailing all throughout, mostly. Each lyric and note feels deliberate. After all, the Grammy Award-winning Danger Mouse is not a producer who uses filler. What makes Mouse’s contributions to the album so unique is how chameleonic his style is. In the past, Mouse has worked with artists such as Beck, the Gorillaz and Adele.
One standout on the album is “Reveries.” O’s voice sounds like it was recorded on an old ‘60s recorder, loaded with a slight fuzz of static in the recording. The guitar is rough, making you think of a lonely girl playing an old guitar in the cover of night. The song is simplest. It’s met with a rough strumming of the guitar, heavenly synth and O’s precise but calming voice. It builds up into an eruption of emotion. The synth gets louder and heavier. The guitar eventually fades into the background before returning in the same rutty haziness as before.
Another standout is “Woman.” O finally flaunts her dramatic, gnarly voice. Mouse’s talent with drums, which he has arguably built his career on, is on full-blast. Looking past the lyrics, it’s empowering and almost taunting. It’s an ode. It’s like flipping the bird to people who try to keep you down. The punchy, hard beat and retro powerhouse vocal callbacks take the listener to summer 1980 New York City or Chicago. It’s gritty, bold and in your face.
Overall, the album is beautifully produced. This mismatched duo, on paper at least, are total opposites. In this day where concept albums are increasingly common, it can be difficult to blend two differing sounds. However, O and Mouse play off of each other’s strengths, ignoring their weaknesses and dive feet-first into this album. It’s somehow familiar, lucid like someone else’s memories played in your head. For old listeners of O or Mouse, they might find something new in “Lux Prima.”
8 out of 10 torches.