Solo Karen O sings both sides of love

Photo by Daigo Oliva, via WikiMedia Commons

Junette Reyes/Editor-in-Chief 

As with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O’s style of music has been known for its theatrical production, commonly described as art-rock. Karen O on her own, however, has proven that she can strip down and show us her bare bones with her solo debut release titled “Crush Songs.”

The title itself describes the content of the intimate release, which Karen had privately written and recorded when she was 27 while going through a “continuing love crusade.”

Crushing badly on someone is something anyone can relate to. What Karen exceptionally encompasses in her album is both the youthful naivety of the concept as well as the harshness of it all as relationships become more complicated as we grow older.

“Love is soft / Love’s a f***ing b*tch,” she sings in the single titled “Rapt,” hinting at the cruelty behind love and heartbreak. She continues the complexity of it all by describing the object of her affection, or love itself, as a habit, asking, “Do I really need another habit like you?” She juxtaposes this question by following with “I really need,” almost admitting that she does and cannot release herself from this habit.

At the age of 27, the idea of “crushing” should ideally be nonexistent and, yet, Karen shows that there can still be a sense of wonder and daze in the pursuit of love.

“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 longingly sings in the opener “Ooo.” This is sung over a few simple guitar chords that are played almost in a frustrated manner, paralleling the frustration of someone who is struggling with love and the loss of it.

Every song follows this simplistic formula of vocals over guitar in a lo-fi fashion, giving the album almost an atmospheric, nostalgic feel — the kind of soundtrack one would indeed listen to while reminiscing about past loves.

The songs themselves are short but feel like an eternity as they play, as heartbreak tends to feel. Once they’re done, I am left with a feeling of emptiness, feeling exactly as she did — not knowing if falling in love again would ever be a possibility.

It resonates with me on a personal level, as I’m currently caught defining something either as just an infatuation or an actual love. If the shortness of the album’s tracks teaches me anything, it would only be the former. Unfortunately, the same applies to the album itself, which is a sweet experience for just this moment.

“If you love somebody, anybody / There will always be someone else / So make it right for yourself,” she resolves in “Body,” setting up the album as to fit this description. The album is nice for just this moment, but there will always be more from her, and hopefully better.

Noteworthy tracks include “Rapt,” “Ooo,” “Body,” “Day Go By,” “NYC Baby” and “So Far.”

Final verdict: 3.5/5 

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