The musician has constantly pushed the boundaries of her potential.
On Friday March 15, Karen O and Danger Mouse released the album Lux Prima, which didn’t fall short of what was to be expected from the two collaborating. Both talented musicians have been releasing music for two decades. ‘Woman’, the single out prior to the album, is arguably the most important and best song on the record and a reminder of Karen O’s history of being a punk.
Fronting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs since the band’s beginning in 2000, Karen O became known for her bizarre and wild onstage antics. 2003’s Fever to Tell is what many bands wish for from a first record, gaining both critical and commercial success. You can guess the title of each track solely based on the one word that is repeated over and over throughout, channelling into the impact simplicity can have. O’s vocals in each song are powerful and honest, in more of a getting-it-off-your-chest way than overly repetitive. ‘Man’ “I got a man who makes me wanna kill” or ‘Tick’ “tick tick tick time tick tick tick tick tick tick…” Track after track is a forceful punk holler from a confident and inspiring Karen O. Any live performance from the band in this era is worth a watch.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs went on to release Show you Bones in 2006, in similar vein to the last album but a bit more mature. The most notable track is ‘Fancy’ with heavy guitar and cutthroat lyrics; “Check what’s in the trash bag/Well just another part of you.” Next up was It’s Blitz released ten years ago in what was a drastic change in the sound of the band. Introducing more electronic and dance undertones to the previous punk sound. The first two tracks, ‘Zero’ and ‘Heads Will Roll’ have successfully integrated the two different genres but the rest of the album falls short, mostly catering to a synthy dance sound and losing bits of the original excitement of the band. Though Karen O’s vocals still remain the focal point.
Outside of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O has released her own solo records including music for the 2009 film, Where the Wild Things Are by Spike Jonez. Released under Karen O and The Kids, the soundtrack is a collection of songs intertwined with sound clips from the film and, when accompanied with the visuals, make the film what it is. Tracks like ‘Worried Shoes’ and ‘All is Love’ are heart-warming and calm but the album does have a few shimmers of the Karen O vocal intensity. ‘Animal’ sings “Hold me animal” followed by a wild shriek from Karen and ‘Capsize’ is both haunting and dramatic. 2014 saw the release of O’s debut solo record Crush Songs, an all acoustic and hushed sounding album. Although we may never again get the Karen O we got from 2003’s Fever To Tell, her attitude and conviction alone is enough to give her punk status.